UBC and TWU force heartbreak in CanWest semi-finals

LANGLEY, BC – The Canada West Final Four returned on Friday night and gave passionate British Columbian soccer fans a chance to see some of Western Canada’s top talent. With the defending U SPORTS National Champions in the mix, and a raucous home crowd, Friday night offered another step in Canada West’s comeback season. 

TWU Spartans 1-0 Saskatchewan Huskies

(Saskatchewan Huskies)

The Trinity Western Spartan did not lose a game all regular season, only dropping points once when they drew 1-1 with the UBC Thunderbirds in the season’s penultimate game. Finishing atop the Canada West Women’s Soccer standings, the Spartans earned the right to host the Canada West Final Four weekend and face the fourth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies in a semifinal. 

Despite Trinity Western’s undefeated season, the Huskies, who eliminated the Calgary Dinos in the quarterfinal, pressured through the entire match, holding the Spartans to just a single goal in the 15th minute from Kathryn Harvey. Unfortunately for the Huskies, that early tally was all TWU needed to book their spot in the Canada West gold medal match. 

While the Spartans hemmed the Huskies in their end for the first 15 minutes before eventually finding the breakthrough, Saskatchewan pushed back soon after. Taniel Gay broke into the penalty area in the 28th minute, but former New Zealand futsal youth international Tilly James slid in to break up the play at the last moment. 

Saskatchewan goalkeeper Jadyn Steinhauer, who stopped three penalties to send the Huskies to the Final Four, once again stood firm, thwarting attacking waves from the Spartans. But, by the final whistle, Steinhauer’s eight stops weren’t enough, as the Spartans advanced to the Gold Medal Match with a 1-0 win. 

Led by Head Coach Graham Roxburgh, the TWU Spartans will look to end their record-setting conference season on a  high note with a win against UBC before heading to the U SPORTS National Tournament in Nova Scotia. 

UBC Thunderbirds 2-0 MacEwan Griffins

Aislin Phillips vs MacEwan, CW SF, Nov. 5, 2021
(UBC Thunderbirds)

2-0 seems like a straightforward scoreline, but the second Canada West semifinal of the day was anything but clear. The defending U SPORTS National Champions, UBC met their match against MacEwan, who held them level until the final three minutes of the game when UBC converted on their chances. 

Both teams boasted 11 win records in conference play in 2021 and came into the match as evenly matched as possible, despite not playing in the regular season. MacEwan, anchored by midfielders Samantha Gouveia and Grace Mwasalla, had five shots through the night, all of which UBC’s Emily Moore handled with confidence. 

Between the sticks for MacEwan, second-year goalkeeper Breanna Truscott stimied the UBC attack on several occasions, breaking up plays, controlling her backline, and making eight saves. However, UBC’s pressure eventually pushed through the MacEwan defence. 

Nip-and-tuck through 85 minutes, the Thunderbirds stepped up their pressure in the dying moments of the match, when star striker Danielle Steer and fourth-year Tess McRae forced the ball into the Griffin’s goal in the 87th minute. With MacEwan pushing forward, Steer added the insurance marker in stoppage time.

“It was an interesting first half, we tried to control it, but MacEwan is a good team,” said UBC Head Coach Jesse Symons to Spartans Athletics. “They made our team think as we had to find different ways to defend. Full credit to them (MacEwan), I thought they played really well.”

With a semifinal victory, the Thunderbird’s hopes of defending their 2019 U SPORTS title are still alive, as they qualify for the U SPORTS National Tournament. However, while Nationals are the big prize, the group wants to take the Canada West gold medal, something they failed to do against TWU in 2019. 

One U SPORTS spot left

Although the Saskatchewan Huskies and MacEwan Griffins fell in their semi-final matches, they still have a shot at qualifying and winning the U SPORTS National Championship. The two divisional winners face off in the Canada West Bronze Medal Match, with the winner earning a berth at the National Tournament, where they will take on the best of the AUS, OUA and RSEQ. 

Saturday Final Day Kickoff Times

Gold Medal Match: UBC vs TWU – 7:30 pm PT

Bronze Medal Match: Saskatchewan vs MacEwan – 4:30 pm PT

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