VANCOUVER, BC – Talk about starting off on the right foot. It might only be one game, but the UBC Thunderbirds got themselves an emphatic 5-0 win over the Regina Cougars in the Canada West Quarterfinals to kick off their national title defense.
With a small orange glow over Thunderbird Stadium, the match kicked off. UBC immediately got themselves off to a good start, controlling most of the possession and quality chances. The Cougars were the first to get a shot on goal however, Emily Moore easily securing the shot in her hands off the counterattack.
From then, it was all Thunderbirds. A flood of white jerseys found themselves with plenty of pressure, generating chances upon chances. Excellent build-up play saw Sophie Damian and Tess McRae get good shots on net, but nothing doing for now.
It took until the 20th minute before the deadlock was broken. Katalin Tolnai sprung Damian with an incisive through ball, sending the defender in alone against Allyson Ford. She made no mistake to put UBC in the lead.
Tolnai wasn’t done either, as she sprayed out more than a couple of dangerous passes to set up great chances for her teammates. The next goal came courtesy of a very familiar name, as Damian set up Danielle Steer who was able to bang home another goal in a historic season.
Steer tacked on another goal just as the half came to a close, Tolnai’s cross getting poked through by Damian, before the striker finished an easy chance for her brace. With the halftime whistle going, the Cougars were in a state of disarray. UBC was taking it to them.
The second half kicked off with an early flurry of chances by the Cougars. They knew they needed a goal to get back into this to keep their season alive, and they responded with their best spell of the match. Unfortunately for them, it only lasted for 5 minutes.
UBC wrestled control of the match back, with their chances coming fast and furious. Steer had a glorious opportunity in the 50th minute to get herself her hat trick but the ball went barely wide. Then, Tess McRae tested Ford in the 54th as the Cougar keeper got herself busy.
Steer generated another opportunity for McRae in the 62nd, with the shot just not coming off, before Damian’s shot snuck just past the woodwork in the 64th. The Thunderbirds never gave up pressing for another goal, hemming the Cougars in with constant possession.
First-year Jade Taylor-Ryan came on in the 78th minute in place for Danielle Steer and inherited her goal-scoring touch. In the 86th, Sophia Ferreria fought her way into the box and dished it off to the first-year striker, who buried a shot that crashed in off the bar.
Quite literally 2 minutes later came a goal of the year candidate. Aislin Phillips, standing over the ball at the 30-yard mark, unleashed a free-kick that soared past Ford. It was the cherry on top of an extremely dominant performance by the T-Birds.
The final whistle went as UBC secured themselves a very dominant win over Regina. Moore wasn’t tested too much but was solid when called upon to record another clean sheet. Steer, Damian, Tolnai and McRae were all over the pitch, making a difference for the home team to win by the margin they did.
With the victory, the Thunderbirds move on to the Canada West Final Four, set to take place in Victoria from November 5th to 7th. They’ll take on the winner between the UFV Cascades and MacEwan Griffins for a spot in the Canada West Final.