Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -
The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves knew anything less than a victory against the TRU WolfPack would end their Canada West playoff hopes, and played like a desperate team, earning a hard-fought 2-0 victory over the visitors on Friday, October 19, 2018.
"It was a really positive atmosphere in the changeroom," said UNBC's Ashley Volk after the game. "We were excited for the challenge, knowing if we got a result today, that the challenge would continue."
Brooke Molby, who was slated to back up keeper Madi Doyle in this game, found out after warmup that she'd be between the pipes, and the native of Squamish proved to be the difference.
In the fifth minute, the Timberwolves got on the board when Julia Babicz took a Sofia Jones pass and sent a ball into the box. From there, Ashley Volk did the rest, getting her head on it and beating WolfPack keeper Danielle Robertson perfectly, just inside the far post. The goal was the first of Volk's Canada West career, and gave the home side a 1-nil advantage.
"Julia sent in a nice cross, and we were all forward," said Volk. "It just so happened that I came in and got my head on the ball, just like we've been working on in training. My whole team was there to support me and celebrate, so it was pretty cool."
Eight minutes later, the Pack were on the attack, and nearly evened the score. Off a corner kick, a scramble ensued, and TRU's Marlie Rittinger had a glorious opportunity, but the ball was kicked off the line by fifth-year fullback Kylie Erb.
Both teams traded opportunities for much of the first half, but it was Molby and Robertson keeping their respective sides in it, making a number of saves. In the 45th minute, the TWolves looked to add to their advantage on a free kick that found the head of Hannah Emmond, but her header rolled just wide, wrapping up the first half of play.
In the second half, Emmond would get another chance, but this time she made sure to make good. A great pass through the middle of the park from Mikaela Cadorette in the 47th minute would lead to a Paige Payne break. Canada West's leading goal scorer would slip it to Emmond, and the second year Prince George native would make no mistake, beating Robertson on the break. The 2-nil goal marked the first of Emmond's UNBC career.
TRU would turn up the pressure at that point, testing Molby with good looks from Natalie Verdiel, Camryn Curtis, and Shae Fuoco but to no avail.
In the 71st minute, Payne was awarded a penalty kick after being hauled down in the box. A goal would likely seal it for the TWolves, but Robertson was up to the task, making a diving save to her left to keep it out, and keep it a two goal game.
UNBC looked to absorb in from that point on, and again, Molby was the story. The second-year keeper kept a Marisa Medonca opportunity out, along with a header off a corner from Rittinger, much to the disbelief of the WolfPack bench.
"We were trying to stay positive, but we definitely didn't have some things go our way," said Robertson, postgame. "We had some scrambles, and we knew we were still in it because of those chances. We just didn't have any luck finishing."
When the final whistle blew, Molby made nine saves for a massively important clean sheet, while her counterpart, Robertson, was terrific with 14 saves on 16 shots.
"I was nervous when Neil said I had to go in, but the team had my back," said Molby. "I really wanted to win today, and I am glad we did. Hopefully we win on Sunday and can make playoffs."
The win keeps UNBC's postseason hopes alive, improving their record to 2-8-3. The Wolfpack drop to 3-9-1. The Timberwolves need a win over UBCO on Sunday, along with a TRU loss to MacEwan to qualify for the playoffs. If the WolfPack win, and the UBCO-UNBC match ends in a draw, TRU will qualify.
"We are going to go and take care of ourselves mentally," said Robertson. "We have had a tough season, and we have been unlucky this season. So we are going to come out fresh, knowing we can do this."
"We are going to take some positives from this game, and continue to work on our mentality," said Volk. "Keeping the ball, possessing, and going forward. It will be a new game. This was awesome, but we focus tomorrow on training, because it is a new challenge against a new team."