Vancouver, BC- University soccer is back! Although U SPORTS competition was called off for the year on Oct. 15, several schools have begun playing independently organized exhibition games and tournaments. Each week, 49 Sports will update you on the latest action from around Canadian university soccer, the same thing we would have called U SPORTS.
“The beautiful game” has returned in its greatest capacity in British Columbia, with five schools seeing their men’s and women’s teams return to the field. The schools include the TWU Spartans, UFV Cascades, UBC Thunderbirds, TRU Wolfpack and UBCO Heat.
TRU and UBCO in Action
On the women’s side of the game, the TRU Wolfpack and UBCO Heat faced off in an Okanagan matchup, while the Wolfpack also took on Thompson Okanagan FC in an additional match.
TRU toppled UBCO 3-2 with goals from Robin Price and Camryn Curtis, as well as a UBCO own-goal. “We have played some inter-squad games, but those weren’t nearly as exciting as the real thing. We haven’t played a team in our league since October 2019 when we played Trinity Western, so we were very eager to get back out there and show them what we’ve got,” said Curtis post-match to The Omega.
In the second match against TOFC, TRU’s task was much easier en route to their 3-0 victory. The TOFC side was 2003-born, making them far younger than the majority of the TRU roster, however, any match play was welcomed by both sides. The Wolfpack and TOFC will face off again Wednesday evening in Kamloops, with an away fixture vs UBCO at a later date.
The “Vancouver Pod” (UBC, TWU, UFV, Whitecaps FC)
While TRU and UBCO are facing off in a pair of exhibition matches, only the “Vancouver Pod” presents some sort of competitive season. The four-team cohort features three U SPORTS teams, the UBC Thunderbirds, TWU Spartans and the UFV Cascades, with the Vancouver Whitecaps Girls Elite REX program topping off the field.
The “Pod” league got underway last week with UBC taking on TWU at Thunderbird Stadium. The first match back in over 11 months was decided by a penalty kick from UBC’s Michelle Jang, who scored the only goal of the match. The game, although filmed was not broadcast, however, highlights are below.
UBC and TWU have played their second matches of the league as well, with the Thunderbirds finding victory once again over the Whitecaps, this time by a wide 4-0 margin. Jang added another two goals, making her the leading goalscorer in the pod, and pushing the T-Birds to 2-0-0. National-title winning goalkeeper Sarah Johns also secured her second shutout of the season. The Whitecaps match also saw the T-Birds debut of Mary Nicholls, Annie Plecas and Ella Nuttall-Smith, two of the high profile recruits from the past offseason. Highlights can be found below.
TWU’s second match was a visit to UFV, where the Cascades kick off their exhibition season. The Spartans found the scoresheet for the first time, and more importantly, a win. Sierra Halldorson, Kathryn Harvey and Elizabeth Hicks got the goals in the 3-0 victory, while goalkeeper Hannah Miller turned aside every UFV chance.
“Super pleased with so many elements of our game tonight. We defended really well and generated lots of chances.” said TWU Head Coach Graham Roxburgh to Spartans Athletics. “Halldorson was fantastic as the engine in the midfield, and it was great to get some young kids some minutes.”
The Cascades next match will be on Oct. 24 vs UBC at Thunderbird Stadium, meanwhile the Spatans will face the Whitecaps.
The current standings are below, while UBC’s Michelle Jang leads the goal count with three.
1. UBC: 2-0-0
2. TWU: 1-0-1
3. UFV: 0-1-0
4. VWFC: 0-0-1
TRU and UBCO go head to head
Like their female counterparts, the men of the UBCO Heat and TRU Wolfpack faced off in a friendly last week, however, it featured far less scoring than the women’s match. Fourth-year defender Josh Banton scored the lone goal in the 1-0 victory for the Wolfpack, putting them to 1-0-0 on the exhibition season. “My role on the team isn’t usually to score goals so it felt unreal to contribute with a goal during the first game back,” Banton told The Omega post-match.
Neither UBCO or TRU played another match, but the two sides are planning to face each other again, this time at UBCO.
TWU and UFV in the Fraser Valley Premier League
Both the Spartans and Cascades are playing in the top division of the Fraser Valley Premier League, the men’s league in their area. While matchplay is great for the two sides, based on the sporadic highlights that have been shared, they are leagues above their competition.
TWU have three teams in the lague, all going by A-C respectively. “A,” which is the Varsity team, won their first game of the season 2-1 against Langley FC, and followed that up with a 3-2 victory over Langley United. They were set to play a third match, however it was postponed due to an undisclosed reason. So far so good for the Spartans, who boast a 2-0-0 record.
“B” and “C” have a combined three postponements, while also having a combined losing record that includes blowout wins such as a 10-1 by “C” to Stolo Braves FC. However, these teams are not the ones that would have played in Canada West.
On the Cascades side of the field, they opened their FVSL campaign with a convincing 5-1 victory over Abbotsford United, a side that boasted many UFV alumni. Per the UFV website, former alumni on the field were the O’Neill brothers (Trevor and twins Colton and Connor), James Najman, Daniel Davidson, Brady Weir, Sahib Phagura, Atle Koellmel and Mason Thompson, certainly a large contingent.
However, while the Abbotsford side was flush with former Cascades, the current team trounced the alumni. UFV took no time to get things started, scoring a trio of first half goals, before padding their lead in the final 45 minutes. Parman Minhas opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and rookie Marley Edwards had a brace by games end, however, it was the 2-0 gal from David Parfett that was the highlight of the night. Parfett’s blast from 30 yard out looped its way into the net, and the goalkeeper was left longing for a redo. Highlights are below, and the full FVSL schedule can be found HERE.
Although it is far from a regular Canada West season, returning to the field has been welcomed by everyone involved. No fans are allowed at the matches, however, such things could change with the ever-evolving public health guidelines. With so much action going on in BC, it could pave the way to a potential “BC Cup” in the spring or later in the winter.
Cover Photo: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds