Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – The UBC Thunderbirds earned the 2017 Canada West bronze medal after scoring two second-half goals on route to a 2-1 victory over MacEwan Saturday afternoon at Chase Office Field.
Trailing by a goal at halftime, UBC's Kassie Kirlik and Tess McRae scored three minutes apart, in the 50th and 53rd minutes, to give the T-Birds all the offence they would need to capture the bronze medal.
MacEwan's Suekiana Choucair scored in the 17th minute to open the scoring.
Marlee Maracle made four saves for the T-Birds, while MacEwan's Emily Burns stopped three of the five shots she faced.
The Thunderbirds were on the front foot early on, generating three shots on target within the first nine minutes. However, MacEwan's Burns was up to the task, stopping all three shots, including a diving stop on Rachel Jones in the sixth minute.
However, from there, the Griffins pushed back and started to press, testing Maracle for the first time in the match in the 11th minute.
On the heels of a close call in the box, MacEwan broke through with the first goal of the contest. In the 17th minute. Choucair sent a corner kick into the box and the ball deflected off the hands of Maracle and into the back of the net.
The Griffins continued to press for a second goal, but while they looked like the better side for much of the rest of the opening half, they went into the break with only a 1-0 lead. MacEwan finished with four corners, while the T-Birds were held without a corner in the first half.
In the second half, the field tilted UBC's way.
From the outset, the T-Birds put the Griffins under pressure and less than five minutes into the second half, Kirlik equalized for UBC. Jones sent a cross into the box and Kirlik elevated above the crowd and headed it past Burns.
With the tying marker in the bag, the T-Birds snagged momentum and three minutes later McRae knocked home a cross from Aman Shergill for what would prove to be the game-winning goal.
The T-Birds largely held the Griffins in check the rest of the match, playing a sound possession game that limited any sort of MacEwan attack.
Just before the 90-minute mark, MacEwan had its best chance to tie the game on a counterattack, but while Salma Kamel's shot beat Maracle, it rolled wide left.
The result sees the top three teams in Canada West all come from B.C., with Trinity Western and Victoria set play in the championship match.
The T-Birds came into the Canada West Final Four as the two-time defending Canada West champions.