Vancouver, BC- University soccer was back once again this week, as the schools across British Columbia continued their competitions across the province. From the local leagues to makeshift leagues and friendlies, university soccer stayed alive another week, and 49 sports is recapping all the action.
Women’s Soccer: The Vancouver Pod
The Vancouver Pod, featuring the UBC Thunderbirds, TWU Spartans, UFV Cascades and Whitecaps REX program is by far the most enthralling university soccer in the country right now. While there is no Canada West season, this four-team competition has presented the most “season-like,” competition.
UBC Thunderbirds vs UFV Cascades
In the first check-in last week, the UBC Thunderbirds were atop the pod after two wins, and that is where they find themselves today following a win over the UFV Cascades. Third-year midfielder, Sophie Damian scored a pair of opening half goals, while Tess McRae and Danielle Steer added the other two to end the first 45 minutes, Alyssa Hunt’s second-half goal for the Ti-Birds fifth of the match was just icing on the cake, as the Thunderbirds went on to win 5-1.
UFV’s goal came off of a set-piece, followed by a screamer of a shot by Simi Lehal from 30 yards away from goal, beating UBC’s goalkeeper for the first goal conceded by the T-Birds in pod action.
“UBC is at the top of their game right now,” said Cascades interim head coach Niko Marcina to UFV Athletics. “They’re extremely fit, extremely strong, and they move well off the ball. They’re the national champions, and it’s easy to see why. They’ve very bought into a specific style of play, and it’s very tough to play against.”
While UFV’s performance was underwhelming against a strong UBC side, forward Sarah Parker showed well in her 90 minutes despite not finding the scoresheet. With their second loss of the pod, the Cascades find themselves in third place, awaiting a Halloween afternoon match against suburban Vancouver rivals, Trinity Western.
On UBC’s side of the pitch, rookies Josie Claypool and Polly Radnidge made their Thunderbirds debuts, meaning every rookie has now suited up for the 2019 U SPORTS National Champions.
TWU Spartans vs Whitecaps REX (x2)
The Trinity Western Spartans and Whitecaps Girls Elite REX faced off twice this week, and the Spartans kept pace with UBC at the top of the pod with a pair of wins. Both of these matches were watchable to the public with free broadcasts from the Spartans Athletics department.
The opening match was yet another stout defensive performance by the Spartans, who were able to extend their shutout streak to over 180 minutes with the 2-0 victory. However, while Hannah Miller’s goalkeeping and a pair of set-piece goals were satisfactory, the first match was far less event-filled than the second.
In the second match, there was everything a soccer fan could ask for. Red cards, set-piece goals, long-range goals, crunching tackles and more, it was a near-perfect match for a fan of the game.
The scoring started early, with Makenna Dieterich finishing off a wonderful through ball from her teammate for her second of the week, but that early goal was the only one with 11 TWU women on the pitch.
Goalkeeper Hannah Miller, who kept a clean sheet in the first game between the two sides earned a red card in the 30th minute, leaving the Spartans a player down for the remaining hour. Backup netminder Olivia Nichol came into the match to keep someone between the sticks and did fairly well throughout her hour. While an early sending off could have lead to their defeat, the Spartans buckled down and kept attacking for the rest of the match, reaching half time still up a goal.
Rather than sitting back and absorbing pressure in the latter 45, TWU put the pedal two the medal, adding a pair of goals, including two of the best goals of the season. Long-range shots from veteran Anna Dunn and defender Liz Hicks caught the better of the Whitecaps goalkeeper, making it a trio of goals for the Spartans. Dunn’s goal was her first in Spartans colours after transferring from the University of Alberta.
The Whitecaps did get a goal of their own, the first in the pod from Emma Pascoe when fill-in TWU netminder, Nicol dropped the ball on a free-kick, allowing Pascoe the juicy rebound. With the loss, the Whitecaps fell to 0-3-0 with sole possession of the last place.
“I thought Anna Dunn drove us in midfield. Her work rate was superb and her decision-making to keep us in possession was superb. Kristen Sakaki and Elizabeth Hicks had great captains performances,” said legendary Spartans Head Coach Graham Roxburgh to Spartans Athletics post-match.
With all three matches of Week 2 now I the rearview mirror, UBC stay atop the standings.
Women’s Soccer: TRU Wolfpack vs UBCO Heat Series
For the first time in years, the TRU Wolfpack fell to their Okanagan rival UBCO Heat. Following a 3-2 in the first match between the two teams, the Wolfpack were unable to find the goals a second time, falling 2-1. While the match was not all that exciting, there is a rumour that both sides will be switching cohort bubbles later this year to take on the Vancouver schools who are currently competing amongst themselves. However, TRU is the only school currently allowing fans at matches at Hillside Stadium, with 50 spectators allowed at home games.
Men’s Soccer: TRU Wolfpack vs UBCO Heat Series
In all of the soccer that has gone on across B.C, this match was the first to end in a draw. 1-1 was all there was for the two sides in Kamloops, a disappointing result for a TRU side that felt they dominated the match. Speaking with The Omega post-match, TRU Head Coach John Antulov said. “We showed some good things in the second half offensively and thought some of our young players played well. We need to be better organized on set pieces but overall happy with the result.”
The Wolfpack had plans to face the TWU Spartan men who have been playing in the local Fraser Valley Soccer League, but those matches had to be postponed due to a Spartan player being exposed to COVID-19.
Men’s Soccer: TWU and UFV in the FVSL
TWU has not played in the FVSL since their two wins on Oct 6/9, however, the Cascades hit the pitch twice since we last checked in. Little is recorded, filmed or accessible for this league, so all we know is that the Cascades lost 2-1 to Abbotsford United and won 6-1 against Chilliwack FC. Those results leave UFV with a 3-1-0 record.
Cover Photo: Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics