Gideon Hill/UBC Thunderbirds
The UBC Thunderbirds dropped a crucial 2-1 decision to the Trinity Western Spartans on Friday night at Thunderbird Stadium, as the hosts celebrated their graduating seniors Margaret Hadley and Emma Kallner under beautiful skies. In a game filled with tackles, three penalty kicks, and yellow cards, the Spartans would prevail in a match that featured the healthy rivalry between the two universities.
In a fast paced first 10 minutes, it was UBC who almost scored the opener courtesy of outstanding rookie Michelle Jang. Kallner who had numerous set piece opportunities on the evening, played the ball in towards the Trinity box which was cleared but fell to Jang who stepped in and placed an outside of the foot shot that went just wide of TWU keeper Rachel Sydor.
In the 20th minute, the visitors were awarded a penalty kick, after Jenaya Robertson was taken down inside the UBC box, following a free kick in a dangerous position for Trinity Western. Seina Kashima played in the set piece, as Robertson was going for it, she was taken down by a combination of UBC defender's, and the referee pointed to the spot instantaneously. Senior Kathleen Chin stepped up and scored the ensuing penalty past the outstretched arms of UBC keeper Emily Moore to make it 1-0.
A minute later, the Thunderbirds nearly equalized through second year standout Danielle Steer. Steer received a tidy ball in from the left wing, and fired off a rapid strike that flew just over the goal of the Spartans, one of many great opportunities on the evening for the home side.
Trinity nearly doubled their advantage in the 44th minute, as Hadley misplayed a ball at midfield, which bounced kindly into the on running Gabriella Short, she was heavily pursued by a strong T-Birds defence on the night. Despite the effort of the UBC defender's, Short managed to get a shot off from 25 yards out, but Moore sprawled out to make a beautiful diving save and a resulting corner.
At the half, the Pacific Division leading Spartans were up 1-0 over UBC, on a penalty kick goal by midfielder Kathleen Chin in the 20th minute. UBC had chances but were unable to finish, with a massive second half on the way.
Trailing 1-0 after halfime the home side came out flying in the second 45, hitting two posts inside the first five minutes. First it was a mistake by Sydor as the ball slid through her and agonizingly off the post, allowing the ball to fall to Emma Cunningham, who's shot was blocked in the 46th minute.
Four minutes later, it was Kallner's turn to hit the wood work, as her fifth free kick of the evening from 30 yards out found the crossbar as her team continued to hunt for the equalizer.
UBC were awarded a penalty in the 60th minute, as their pressure paid off with some nice work down the left side from Steer, who played a lovely ball to substitute Alyssa Hunt who was taken down inside of Trinity's 18-yard box. UBC's joint leading scorer Danielle Steer stepped up ripped a powerful shot at Sydor, but the senior keeper got down quickly and denied the striker with a right footed save, to preserve the 1-0 lead for her team.
In the 63rd minute, another penalty was awarded in this match, and for the second time to Trinity Western, as Kashima's set piece into the box was a lethal one and after a couple of bodies went down for either side in the UBC area the referee found a reason to point to the spot once again. Chin once again stepped up and deposited her spot kick top corner on Moore who was helpless in the UBC net.
10 minutes later though, the T-Birds found their way back into the match, as Steer collected a nice feed from Jang, and placing a lovely shot from 25 yards out into the bottom corner. It was 1-1 in the 73rd minute, as UBC had some time to find a way back into the match.
The Thunderbirds almost grabbed the equalizer in the 92nd minute, as defender Emma Peckinpaugh made a foray into the Spartans half, and took a shot from 25 yards that was saved by Sydor, but she somehow spilled it allowing Jang to jump on it, but once again the TWU defence held strong and made a goal line stand to keep the ball out of their net.
Despite five minutes of added time and a couple golden opportunities including a late spill on the ball from Sydor, UBC were held at one goal on the evening and an eventual frustrating 2-1 loss.
Post-match, UBC head coach Jesse Symons was appreciative of his team's effort.
"I thought we were unlucky tonight, we worked hard, we moved the ball, we tried to play," added Symons. "But unfortunately, we dropped another close one to Trinity."
On what his team can bring to the table and recover tomorrow night versus UFV.
"I think overall we need a 90-minute performance against a UFV team that is playing well," continued Symons. "We need to make sure we are managing our bodies and be prepared to perform well in our last game of the season tomorrow night."
With the result UBC falls to 10-3-0 while seeing their seven-game winning streak come to an end but they maintain second spot in the standings with a playoff berth already confirmed, meanwhile the victory pushed Trinity to 12-1-0 on the season while also clinching top spot in the division.
The T-Birds finish their season at home tomorrow night, hosting the UFV Cascades looking to end the season on a high note, that one kicking off at Thunderbird Stadium at 6:30 p.m. While the Spartans head to the Island where they'll take on the Vikes for a 5:00 p.m kickoff to close out their campaign.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds