Spartan men can't breakthrough
TWU plays UBC to a draw in regular season finale.
The Trinity Western University Men’s Soccer team went into a home-and-home series with the second-ranked University of British Columbia this past weekend, but were unable to break through and get the two key wins they needed. Heading into the weekend, the Spartans trailed the Thunderbirds by five points in the Pacific division and had a chance to take over first place with two victories. However, UBC, needing only one tie or win over the two games to clinch first place, was happy to play lockdown defense and survive the weekend. UBC was able to force their will, play it safe, and take the Spartans to a draw at Rogers Field on Saturday.
Evan Lowther was his usual steady self, stopping all five UBC shots to record his fifth shutout of the season and fourth in six games. Normally, shutouts are something to be specially celebrated; unfortunately, UBC’s Luke O’Shea returned the favour by rejecting all four of TWU’s shots to record a shutout of his own. None of the shots on either side were particularly close to scoring, as neither goalie had to work too hard.
The tie ensured first place for UBC in the Pacific Division and relegated TWU officially into second place. As a result, both teams knew their fates heading into the rematch in Vancouver on Saturday. UBC would get a first round buy straight into the Canada West Final Four, while TWU would have to play the 3rd place team from the Prairie division to earn a spot in the CW Final Four.
The rematch was far more exciting and eventful, but since the result did not matter, it’s hard to take any of the results too seriously. Andre Costa capped his fine career by scoring in his last regular season game, and Nathaniel Turner added one of his own. UBC countered with two goals of its own to earn another tie, 2-2.
Despite, the unimportant nature of the game, both teams pressed for the win late, and Costa nearly won it for TWU, as he beat the UBC goalkeeper. Unfortunately he shot one just wide with 11 minutes remaining to bring the game to a stalemate.
TWU had a longshot chance at first in the Pacific, but were unable to get the breaks they needed. The Spartans can’t sulk about that now though, as the season will be on the line this Thursday against University of Calgary.
The Dinos are a dangerous opponent for the Spartans; TWU and UC met once this year way back in September and played to a 1-1 draw (sensing a theme here). TWU badly outplayed the Dinos with a 23-8 shot attempt advantage and a 10-1 corner kick edge. The game on Thursday and all CW playoff games are in Edmonton, because the University of Alberta is the number one seed and the host. This actually doesn’t make any sense since UBC has a better record by five points over Alberta.
Last year, the Spartans were playing well and were thinking about contending for a national title. That dream was derailed in the CW playoffs; we will see if the Spartans have learned anything from last year’s heart break.