Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves knew it wasn't going to come easy against the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns, and they were right, edging the Horns 1-nil, Friday September 21st in Prince George, BC.
Both teams looked hesitant in the early going, but it was the Timberwolves who got on the board. In the 17th minute, Pierre Barrafranca was taken down in the Pronghorns' box, leading to a penalty kick opportunity for TWolves captain Francesco Bartolillo.
The fifth-year put it just below the crossbar, giving Lethbridge keeper Nolan French, and giving the Calgary native his fourth of the season.
The visitors would look to answer, and had chances from Danilo Morales, Thomas Hammerton, and Jaden Veluw, but nothing could get past keeper Rob Goodey.
"We did respond, and did really well to keep the ball and put pressure on them," said Pronghorns captain Sean Gaiesky. "We just can't seem to finish right now."
Early in the second half, the Timberwolves were playing with pace and purpose, looking to extend the lead to two goals. Michael Henman had a glorious chance that was turned away by French with an athletic leaping save, while Owen Stewart and Matt Jubinville couldn't double the lead, either.
In the 67th minute, Bartolillo was sent in on a break, chose to chip it over French, but he caught nothing but the crossbar. Coach Steve Simonson was able to use a number of substitutions to keep the TWolves pressing, as they looked to continue to wear on the Lethbridge back line.
"We have always been pretty short on depth, but that is really different this year," said TWolves veteran Matt Jubinville. "We are able to switch formations, do different things during the game, and make things a little easier on ourselves."
The Pronghorns seemed to be energized in the final twenty minutes, pressing the home side, and creating a number of chances as the TWolves looked to absorb. Their best opportunities came off the feet of Alasdair Coyle and Marcus Menzies, but Goodey was up to the task. The first-year starter closed the door the rest of the way, sealing the tight victory for UNBC.
"It was two teams that wanted to win," said Gaiesky. "Props to them. They got the one goal and we couldn't equalize."
With the victory, the Timberwolves improve to 2-1-2, while the Pronghorns now sit 0-6-1 on the season.
"We talked about this before the game," said Jubinville. "We held on, and we need to be able to pull out wins, even in tight games like that."
The game also marked the final trip home for Prince George product Gaiesky, who is in his fifth year with the Pronhorns.
"It is always nice to come home and play, and play against a lot of the guys I grew up with," said Gaiesky. "It is good to be back up here."