VANCOUVER, BC – What started off as a dream match quickly turned into a nightmare as the UBC Thunderbirds closed out their first homestand of the season with a 3-3 draw against the UNBC Timberwolves.
After a stirring celebration of life for the late Dick Mosher, it was a 7:40 kick-off for the men’s team as they looked to continue the momentum they built from their first win of the season yesterday.
It didn’t take UBC long at all to get the first marker on the board, as Seb Dzikowski had three cracks in tight and forced one past Daniel Zadravec. Just past the 5-minute mark, and the Thunderbirds were looking good.
The first-year striker from Calgary continued to impress throughout the first half, making runs down the left flank with his pace and getting ample chances against UNBC. The T-Birds controlled the play, allowing only a couple of well-defended counterattacks.
And it was thanks to this pressure that UBC struck again, with Bradley Richardson banging one from up close into the back of the net. Scoring in the 20th minute, things were looking good for the T-Birds. On the other end, goalkeeper Bennett McKay was having himself a game. The first-year keeper flummoxed the Timberwolves players, stopping everything that came his way.
Soon after, UBC managed to add a third goal to their lead. Nick Fussell, who kept up his good form from his last game out, managed to slot it past the UNBC keeper to give the T-Birds a cushion in the 26th minute.
The Timberwolves took this occasion to really wake up and upped the energy of their play. They began to really test the Thunderbird defense, which bent but didn’t break. A couple of close calls marked a real turning point in the flow of the match.
UBC headed into the half holding a comfortable 3-0 advantage, outshooting their northern counterparts 9-7 in the first half. Of course, the team had good reason to be optimistic. It was the first time they had ever led by three goals this year.
The Second Half Comeback/Collapse
As the second half got underway, it was UNBC that seized the initiative. The Timberwolves came out inspired and hungry and really imposed themselves on UBC. The Thunderwolves generated Chance after chance was, an the Thunderbirds really didn’t get sustained possession of the ball.
However, McKay was the one that kept the lead where it was. The keeper was absolutely on fire as he continued to make incredible saves.
The chances began to stack up against the Thunderbirds, and soon enough, the Timberwolves found a way past as Owen Stewart scored in the 83rd. This late, it seemed that it would be too little too late.
Oh, this is where it gets real ugly.
It was almost as if this goal caused UBC’s bending defense to break. Just as the clock ticked over to stoppage time, Stewart struck again for his brace, closing the gap to one and all the momentum on the Timberwolves’ side.
“It’s been our motto and approach that Steve instilled in us this year. To always go forward and look for goals,” said Stewart to UNBC athletics. “We didn’t look at the score. We look to get goals for the full ninety, so we were ready to bomb on. Trying to put a tear in their backline.”
And a tear they put in, as the knife was firmly thrust through the heart of the T-Birds when Connor Lewis evened it all up in the final moments of stoppage time. UBC got a chance with the very last kick of the game, but as Chris Lee’s free-kick soared agonizingly high, the whistle blew three times. The meltdown was complete.
It was a very, very disappointing result for the Thunderbirds, who played so well in the first half but completely folded in the second. Against a team they were heavily favoured to trounce, it was no surprise that UBC Head Coach Mike Mosher was not happy.
“I’ve been in this game coaching university soccer for 25 years and I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a game where we conceded three goals in the last 10 minutes of a game,” said the UBC boss after the match. “Plain and simple, we have to be far better than what we did in that last 10 minutes and honestly the whole second half.”
Seb Dzikowski echoed those sentiments. “Obviously it’s great to score but you know the main focus is the result and unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the result we wanted,” the star striker said, already looking ahead to their next opponents. “We’re gonna take this week to recover, train hard and come back with some goals and some wins for sure.”
With a shortened season, it now becomes critical that the Thunderbirds string results together. They travel to Abbotsford next Friday to take on the UFV Cascades in what must be a six-point weekend.