Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves scored late, and were inches away from victory on a number of occasions, before settling for a 1-1 draw with the visiting Victoria Vikes on Sunday, September 30th in Prince George, B.C.
After an even first half that saw but a few opportunites for either side, it was Victoria who came out of halftime with more energy. Substitution Natalie Cavallin gave the TWolves trouble with her height and length, along with midfielder Avneet Rai, as they generated a number of early chances.
Eventually, the pressure would get the Vikes on the board, as Georgia Bignold took advantage of a UNBC turnover and chipped it up and over the outstretched arms of Brooke Molby, giving Victoria the 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
The Vikes would maintain pressure over the next ten minutes, but Molby stood tall to keep the deficit at one.
UNBC made some adjustments and were able to start creating some chances in the Victoria third, looking to test reigning U SPORTS Goalkeeper of the Year, Puck Louwes.
In the 76th minute, with a Vikes player off with an injury, the Timberwolves got the chance they had been working for. Sofia Jones centered the ball, finding TWolves leading scorer Paige Payne and the native of Kitimat made no mistake from just inside the inside of the box. The equalizer giving Payne her fifth of the Canada West campaign, with less than 15 minutes remaining.
"Both teams were working hard. They were keeping possessions at times, and we were keeping possessions at times," said UNBC's Julia Babicz postgame. "They got one on us, but I think we had a lot more chances."
Just one minute later, the TWolves kept coming and would get within inches of taking the lead. Jones would send a ball into the box, finding freshman Kiana Swift in prime scoring location. Her first shot would hit a sprawling Louwes in the face, and her next attempt from two yards out would hammer the post, somehow staying out.
"You do the best you can, especially if you see you recognize you team isn't necessarily up to the task," said Louwes postgame. "Those saves are fun to make, but not if you end up dropping a point."
In the 89th minute, after chances for both teams, Swift would again have a chance to give her side the victory. A Payne corner kick would glance off Louwes' hands, where the native of Sooke, B.C., was waiting, but she headed the ball just over the crossbar before sliding into the net.
"I managed to hit the goalie's face, hit the post, and another hit my shoulder and went over the net," said a smiling Swift postgame. "I am hoping next week, I'll got one here at home. It just makes me more determined to continue to play well. I am trying to push myself to grow this season."
When the final whistle was blown, the final shot count was an even 11-11. Louwes made four saves, while Molby was credited with three.
"We didn't play our best, and we should have been more ready to play than we were," said Louwes. "I think we underestimated these guys. They were more willing to hit it over the top, and that pressed us. We didn't really know how to deal with that."
"Today, we just wanted to come out and show we are continuing to grow," said Swift. "Our tenacity and aggressiveness, and I think it shows our growth as a program."
The draw was the first game for the Timberwolves after a 7-0 loss at the hands of the UBC Thunderbirds, and Babicz points to her team's resilience as crucial as the season moves along.
"It's huge for our program. This group of girls can lose and then rebound and come back as a different team. That was not the same team you saw on Friday."
UNBC now sits 1-4-3 on the Canada West season, while the Victoria Vikes are 4-4-1.