Gideon Hill / UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds women's soccer team was good at both ends of the field in their home opener on Friday night, in shutting out the Lethbridge Pronghorns 4-0 at Thunderbird Stadium.
After a disjointed first 15 minutes for each squad, both UBC and Lethbridge sharpened up and traded chances with the first notable one coming off the foot of the T-Birds leading scorer Danielle Steer. A ball was played over the top of the Pronghorns backline to Steer, but her shot was saved by visiting keeper Chelsea Galbraith in the 17th minute.
With UBC's constant pressure forcing Lethbridge to defend the visitors found few chances on the counter attack. Their best opportunity of the opening half came from fifth-year midfielder Erica Augsten from 25 yards out, but Thunderbirds' keeper Sarah Johns playing in her first Canada West game, made a comfortable save to keep the game scoreless.
In the 41st minute, the 'Birds best chance was again courtesy of Steer, who received a ball played over the top from first year defender Sophie Damian but her header went agonizingly wide of the Lethbridge goal. The first half would end in a scoreless stalemate but several markers we're yet to come after the break.
"We went into the dressing room and I told them we were too tense," said UBC coach Jesse Symons about his team's inability to find the back of the net in the opening half. "First home game, home crowd, a lot of excitement and distractions surrounding us."
After a frustrating first 45, UBC came out after the break with the lion's share of possession and a different approach that would soon pay off. First year UBC forward Michelle Jang got on the end of a good ball and her shot across goal took a lucky bounce and found its way in for the opening goal in the 48th minute.
In the 59th minute, the Thunderbirds would double their lead through Emma Cunningham, who placed a seeing eye shot far side past Galbraith in the Pronghorns goal. Shortly after in the 61st, UBC could not be stopped with infectious scoring., Steer would finally be rewarded in scoring her first of the evening with a well-placed strike and a comfortable 3-0 advantage for the hosts.
Lethbridge would not go away though, as a couple long range strikes made their way to Johns who had to make a great diving save on Hailey Waterhouse to keep her teams' clean sheet alive in the 63rd. UBC would finish off the perfect evening with a second marker from Steer in the 76th minute after Emma Cunnigham's initial shot ranged off the crossbar.
After the contest Symons was pleased with his team's ability to keep the clean sheet.
"After our last game (a 4-1 loss to Trinity last weekend) we needed to focus on the backline and put pressure on Lethbridge and I think our back three did a very good job of that."
Symons was then asked to turn his attention to Saturday night's opponent the Calgary Dinos.
"They are a very quality, athletic based team, so were expecting a high tempo game, a tough test."
UBC is back on home turf tomorrow night against the Calgary Dinos at 6:30 p.m. at Thunderbird Stadium as they look to make it two victories in a row. Meanwhile the Lethbridge Pronghorns head across the water to face the University of Victoria Vikes tomorrow night at 5 p.m.
PHOTO: Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds