LANGLEY, British Columbia – It wasn’t exactly a wall-worthy oil painting, but the Trinity Western men’s soccer team did what it had to do to grind out a 2-0 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns in its season-opener Friday at Rogers Field.
The Spartans Jason Wiens (Coaldale, Alta.) opened the scoring in the 17th minute, Brayden Gant (Maple Ridge, B.C.) doubled their lead in the 35th minute and after that, the Spartans simply shut the Pronghorns down the rest of the way.
After an exciting first half that saw the Spartans put four shots on goal and generate a number of quality chances, the game slowed to a crawl in the second half as neither team had any impressive opportunities and the lone shot on target from either team came on a Lethbridge attempt from well out.
Trinity Western finished the game with 13 total shots to Lethbridge’s one.
The win puts the Spartans record at 1-0 while the loss drops Lethbridge to 0-1.
“I would have liked to have a couple of more goals,” Spartans coach Pat Rohla said. “They weren’t really in the game in terms of the play. I just don’t think we executed what we did in practice this week. I think we stepped off a little bit and I think that was far beneath what we are capable of.
“On the bright side, we limited their play. They didn’t get any shots of any note. A couple of our rookies stepped up and played well. Overall, it’s a good performance for the league but not what we’ve been used to in preseason.”
The Spartans were the aggressors and the possession-holders right from the opening whistle and we’re rewarded for their efforts when Wiens, positioned in the middle of the Pronghorns box, volleyed home a Brayden Volkenant (Surrey, B.C.) cross from the right wing to give the home side the early edge.
With the Spartans continuing to press, Gant doubled their lead when he got on the end of a Spencer Schmidt (Abbotsford, B.C.) corner and, similarly to Wiens’ effort, volleyed a well-struck ball past Pronghorns keeper Tyler Boast (Calgary).
After that, the Spartans never let the Pronghorns generate any sort of momentum and ultimately cruised to a decidedly one-sided victory.
The game got a little feisty in the latter stages as frustrations boiled over. While nothing got out of hand, the Pronghorns did collect four yellow cards by the game’s end while the Spartans Mitchell Rohla saw two yellows – the latter for unsportsmanlike conduct – and was subsequently sent off with a red card. Rohla will miss Saturday’s game as he’ll sit out his automatic one-game suspension.
The Spartans got a scare in the first half when first-year centre-back Taylor Johnson went down with a leg injury for several minutes, but after having his leg, which was cut while making a slide tackle, bandaged, he returned to the game 10 minutes later. In the meantime, the Spartans, who didn’t make a substitution, played with just 10 men.
Trinity Western goalkeeper Evan Lowther earned the clean sheet by making just one save. Lethbridge’s Boast made two saves on four shots.
Trinity Western will host Calgary Saturday at 5 p.m. at Rogers Field while Lethbridge will travel to play UBC also Saturday at 5 p.m.
Notes – The Spartans Andre Costa returned to Trinity Western’s lineup after missing all of last year due to injury. He entered the game late and played five minutes… The Spartans had five corner kicks while Lethbridge had none.