MSOC: Pacific Division leaders, T-Birds and T-Wolves, battle to 1-1 deadlock

MSOC: Pacific Division leaders, T-Birds and T-Wolves, battle to 1-1 deadlock

Gideon Hill/UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds remain unbeaten to the season finishing in a frustrating 1-1 draw against the Northern BC Timberwolves. It was the first meeting of two this weekend, with the first placed T-Birds hosting the second place Timberwolves for both games.

Victory Shumbusho recorded his first goal of the season for UBC in the 81st minute to even the score after Francesco Bartolillo had given Northern BC the advantage in the 38th with his fifth tally of the campaign.

In UBC's third straight match at home, the Thunderbirds started out very confident, keeping the ball expertly through the first 15 minutes of the match. This possession gifted the home side a golden opportunity in the 17th minute. Rookie standout Daniel Kaiser broke down the right wing, skipping past a couple UNBC defenders, playing in a low cross that found its way to the legs of Zach Verhoven, whose shot was blocked well by a combination of the T-Wolves backline.

Jora Saran had a good first half for the hosts, leading to a well-placed free kick by the UBC left back in the 25th minute that almost led to the opener in this back and forth game. Saran's left-footed set piece to the left of Timberwolves' goalkeeper Rob Goodey was parried for a corner.

UNBC tried to press after all the chances generated by the home team, with themselves creating numerous opportunities on the counter attack only committing a few men forward on the ball. This would allow the play to flow through the wings for the Timberwolves, leading to the first goal of the game, a well-taken strike by UNBC all-time leading scorer Bartolillo.

Leftback Aidan Way played an excellent ball to the feet of Bartolillo, who did the rest. He dribbled past UBC midfielder Karn Phagura, firing one instantaneously from 25 yards out, finding the bottom corner inside the goalpost to the right of a diving UBC 'keeper Jason Roberts to make it 1-0 for the T-Wolves in the 38th minute of play.

The visitors took the 1-0 advantage into halftime.

"I had an idea they were going to put bodies behind the ball, and look to counter, that's exactly how they got us for the opening goal," said UBC head coach Mike Mosher.

The Thunderbirds came out flying in the second half, garnering several forays into the opposition's box off crosses and play through the middle, but unable to put anything past Goodey early on. With the home squad needing a spark, Victory Shumbusho, UBC's leading scorer from last year, was introduced in the 63rd minute for his second appearance of this season after a prolonged injury layoff.

This changed the dynamic of the match, with Kaiser and Shumbusho playing a one-two down the right channel, leading to Kaiser floating in a perfect ball that was hit on the volley by first year midfielder Nick Fussell, flying agonizingly over.

In the 79th minute with the ball still in the UBC half, an off-the-ball incident between T-Birds forward Caleb Clarke and Timberwolves defender Conrad Rowlands resulted in a red card for Clarke who was influential in his team's attack going forward prior to his sending off.

UBC now had 11 minutes to equalize with 10 men and keep their incredible run of form going to start the season.

The T-Birds made their way into UNBC territory in the 81st minute, leading to another UBC corner from Verhoven. The third-year Thunderbird delivered in the set piece, that was flicked home by Shumbusho for his second of the season after a scramble tying the game at 1-1.

"Credit to the guys, they kept working away, down to 10 men or not, we went for it," added Mosher.

That would be the last real threat for either side as both squads just held the ball with minimal chances going forward.

The home side outshot the visitors 26-4, and held a 14-2 advantage in corner kicks.

After a highly contested 1-1 game, UBC and UNBC rematch on Sunday at Thunderbird Stadium with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. PT.

PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds