Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – Calgary's Kelsie MacDonald scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to give the Dinos a 2-1 semifinal win over UBC Friday at Chase Office Field, sending the Dinos to the Canada West championship match.
Taking a pass from Montana Leonard, MacDonald made no mistake from just inside the box to give the Dinos a victory that also sends them into the U SPORTS Championship tournament for the first time since 2015.
After the Dinos Natalie Arnett was sent off in the 23rd minute with a red card, Calgary was forced to play with 10 players for the better part of 70 minutes, but MacDonald's last-gasp goal saw the Dinos, who were 13-1-0 in the regular season, pull out the win.
Calgary opened the scoring just before halftime, with Maddison Fritze tallying in the 42nd minute. UBC tied the game in the 77th minute on a goal from Rachel Kordysz.
Dinos goalie Lauren Houghton, who was a Canada West First Team All-Star, made six saves, including stopping a second-half penalty kick, for the win. UBC's Emily Moore stopped four of the six shots she faced.
"I've been around a long time and I haven't been in too many of those games," said Calgary coach Troye Flannery, who was named the Canada West Coach of the Year. "We were down a player early on and we had a penalty kick against us in the second half, so it was an emotional win. This is just a fantastic bunch of kids. I don't care about anything soccer specific, but I'm just really excited for them. They're incredible students and they've given everything I've asked them to give and today, they ran and they ran and they ran.
"UBC is a good program and we just wanted to come here and put our front foot forward and we did that."
With the win, Calgary will play in the Canada West championship game against the winner of the second semifinal between TWU and Alberta. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (PT) at Chase Office Field. UBC will play the loser of the other semifinal for the bronze medal at 2 p.m. (PT).
"For me personally, coming back on this field (at TWU) – this is as happy as I'll ever be and I don't say that often," said Flannery, who is a TWU alum and a former coach with the Spartans.
The Dinos nearly got on the scoreboard in the first 10 minutes, but a clearance off the line by UBC's Rachel Jones kept the game scoreless in the early moments.
In the 23rd minute, Arnett was shown a direct red card, putting Calgary down to 10 players for the better part of the next 70 minutes.
Down a player, the Dinos didn't take a step back and, in the 42nd minute, they were rewarded. Leonard took a ball at the top of the box, turned and slipped a nifty feed to Fritze inside the box, who slotted it home from 10 yards out. With the goal, Calgary went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The T-Birds had a glorious chance to even the scoreline when UBC was awarded a penalty kick in the 51st minute. But with UBC's Danielle Steer stepping to the spot, it was Calgary's Houghton coming up better. Diving to her left to stop Steer.
In the 76th minute, the T-Birds Jones nearly tied the match as her attempt from 30 yards out hit the left post. However, just a minute later, UBC finally broke through, with Kordysz corralling a loose ball at the top of the box and cracking it to the top right corner, past a leaping Houghton.
Then, with the game tied and overtime looming, MacDonald played the role of late-game hero.
"We survived a lot," Flannery said. "It's the mindset of this team. We focus on the right things. We had a good little chat to get us focused on doing the things we have to do to have success. We blocked, we cleared and we defended well and our goalie is all class. I'm just proud of the team."
The last time Calgary was in the Final Four was in 2015 when they finished third.
The Dinos have captured one conference title in their program history, winning in 2005.