Gideon Hill/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds women's soccer team was victorious under rainy skies at Thunderbird Stadium on Friday night, getting past the UBCO Heat 2-0. The home team was coming off a shutout loss to Calgary last weekend, meaning they were looking to bounce back as their home stand continued.
With the pitch at Thunderbird damp and difficult, both teams found it increasingly challenging to keep possession in the early going with no general flow in the contest. Kylee Walker of the Heat had the most prominent opportunity seven minutes in, after being sent in on goal but her rushed right footed strike skimmed past UBC keeper Emily Moore's net and just wide. The T-Birds defence sharpened up after allowing that chance and the hosts focus switched to going forward for the remainder of the contest.
Their first of many UBC scoring chances in the first half came off the foot of second year forward Danielle Steer in the 10th minute. Rookie Michelle Jang played a tidy ball to the feet of Steer, she then fired a shot at UBCO's goalkeeper Iona Lawson, who parried aside the effort for a corner kick. Jang wouldn't be done with her neat play in the first half though, as Steer returned the favour with a ball to Jang, who's shot attempt was pushed wide of goal by Lawson in the 14th.
The home side was not going to be shut out for a second straight home match though, as they took a lead through a great passage of play down the right side. A nice switch from Margaret Hadley was controlled on the left wing by Steer, who picked up her head and found Rachel Jones just above the 18-yard box. The fourth-year midfielder spread the ball beautifully to the right to a streaking Hadley who whipped in a low cross to Jang in the area, Jang did the rest, redirecting it into the net for her second of the season and a 1-0 UBC lead in the 25th minute.
Post-match, UBC head coach Jesse Symons praised his team for getting a goal in the first half.
"Full credit to the group scoring early, and getting on the front foot, it was great". He was also quoted on Jang and his team's effort on scoring the opener. "It was great seeing Michelle Jang score our first goal, she along with everyone worked really hard at training this week".
UBCO would counter with a dangerous chance to end the half, with the conditions playing a factor in the visitor's foray into UBC territory. Fourth-year Heat veteran Ally Ferronato ran onto a well-placed ball on the left flank and her delivery into the box fooled Moore who had to retreat and watch the ball just barely fly over the crossbar in the 40th minute for a goal kick.
At the half, UBC lead 1-0 through Michelle Jang's well worked goal in the 25th minute that sent the good crowd on hand into an uproar.
With the rain coming down even harder in the second half, once again it was difficult for either squad to garner possession or have any clear-cut chances. This continued for the first 15 minutes before UBC had a corner in UBCO territory that was delivered into the box. Alyssa Hunt got on the end of the set piece in the 62nd minute, and struck it right at Lawson who denied her, but Danielle Steer was right on the spot to deposit the ball into the top corner to make it 2-0 for the home side, and with that goal came comfort.
UBC held down the fort strong to end the match, with Moore making countless saves, the best chance in the second half for UBCO was an in-swinging corner, that the third-year keeper played away for another corner kick in the 85th minute.
Despite constant pressure on the UBC backline, they would end up securing a massive 2-0 victory at the end of 90 minutes behind goals from Jang and Steer.
Symons commented on what the clean sheet meant to the team.
"Overall, we wanted to manage any attacking threats they had, and I thought we did that really well".
The Thunderbirds are back at it tomorrow at Ken Woods field against Thompson Rivers University, with that one kicking off at 5:30 p.m. on Canada West TV. Meanwhile, the Heat make the trek to the Island for a 5 p.m. kickoff versus the University of Victoria Vikes on Saturday night.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds