Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - The UNBC Timberwolves and UBCO Heat each knew a victory, combined with a TRU loss or draw, would put the victor in the Canada West playoffs. When the WolfPack earned only a draw against the MacEwan Griffins, each side knew their respective path. The Heat could play to a draw and earn the conference berth, but the Timberwolves would need a victory to secure a second consecutive trip to the playoffs.
The Heat came out in the first half, looking to possess the ball and break down the UNBC backline. They did generate a couple early chances, specifically off the boots of Jillian Hunt and Jessica Ambrosio, but TWolves keeper Brooke Molby was there to turn away those opportunities.
In the last ten minutes of the first half, the pitch tilted, leading to some chances for UNBC around Heat keeper Emma Terrillon. Sofia Jones was the one knocking on the door, but Terrillon managed to thwart a trio of shots from the second-year forward in the final two minutes.
Just five minutes into the second half, Jones would have her revenge. Paige Payne intercepted a pass in the Heat third, and moved it quickly to Jones at the top of the box. She was able to quickly put it up and over Terrillon, giving her four goals on the season and making it 1-nil Timberwolves.
"Paige did an amazing job on defense and got me the ball right in front of their goal," said Jones. "The goalkeeper was off her line, so I tried to chip it, and it worked out."
"It was just a momentary lapse," said UBCO's Lindey Betherlsen. "The way we play, we do get punished if we give away the ball in the back."
The Timberwolves continued to apply pressure, looking for a two goal lead, and nearly got it off the foot of Payne in the 68th minute, but the Kitimat native's shot missed wide.
As the clock ticked down on the game, the Heat knew time was running out on their season. They looked to press and create chances around Molby, as the TWolves absorbed in and looked to hold onto the lead.
Madelyn Ellis and Erica Lampert each had looks to equalize, but could not solve a suffocating strategy by the home side, and the final whistle blew with the final score 1-0.
"You can't win if you can't score, and that has been our problem this season," said Berthelsen. "That is something we need to work on moving forward, that hunger to put the ball in the net. To get the results we deserved in a lot of our games this season."
Molby made seven saves for her second clean sheet of the weekend, while Terrillon stopped six shots in the defeat.
With the win, UNBC seized sixth place in the Pacific Division, as coach Neil Sedgwick's team earned a second consecutive Canada West playoff berth in the process.
"This entire season, even in games we were down, we work and we try to get that goal," said Jones postgame. "The whole team has been amazing, keeping in that fighting mentality, and in the end it definitely paid off."