TWU Men’s Soccer Hosts UBC in Home Opener Saturday

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September 11, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia – For the Trinity Western men’s soccer team, the season’s heavy lifting is coming early. After playing rivals Victoria and Fraser Valley to open the campaign, this weekend, the Spartans will face the defending CIS champions and now No. 4 ranked UBC Thunderbirds in a home and home series that will see TWU travel to UBC Friday before playing the return leg at Rogers Field Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m.

The Spartans will look to get back on track this Friday and Saturday after a ho-hum opening weekend saw them beat Fraser Valley 2-1, but lose to Victoria 4-0.

Saturday’s game can be seen life on www.canadawest.tv.

Last year, the Spartans and T-Birds played to a pair of draws, 0-0 at TWU and 2-2 at UBC, on the final weekend of the season.

TRINITY WESTERN SPARTANS (1-1-0)

CIS ranking: NR

Canada West Standings: 1st (Pacific – tied)

Last weekend: UFV W, 2-1; Victoria L, 4-0

Streak: 1 loss

2012 Canada West record: 9-1-4 (2nd, Pacific)

2012 Canada West tournament: 1-2, 4th

2012 CIS tournament: N/A

Despite an up-and-down weekend that included a one-goal win and a lopsided loss, the Spartans enter this weekend pretty much exactly where they started the season: with a .500 record and a share of first place in the Pacific Division.

Thanks to some fortuitous out of town results, the Spartans find themselves tied with UBC, Victoria and Fraser Valley atop the division, all with 1-1 records. However, this weekend will provide an opportunity for TWU make a statement about where it stands in Canada West and the CIS. With No. 4 UBC providing the opposition on both Friday and Saturday nights, the Spartans will be up against one of the best teams in the country. How TWU fares this weekend will certainly go a long way to determining the path it takes the rest of the season.

With injuries already piling up on the Spartans side, TWU will need to play a gutty style that relies largely on depth players stepping into the spotlight. But while the early season score lines didn’t blow anyone away, the Spartans opening weekend did show plenty of positives. Against UFV, the Spartans could well have won by two or three goals and against Victoria, it was a pair of stoppage time goals that produced such a one-sided score.

Against UFV, Dominic Reinold got his first regular season goal as a Spartan while Carlos del Aguila added the winner. The Spartans will likely need that type of offence and perhaps a little more if they are to knock off the mighty T-Birds. A back line that has been hit by injuries will also be tested and, along with TWU goalie Evan Lowther, who made both starts last weekend, will have to step up its game this weekend if the Spartans are to get their first win over UBC since a 2-1 victory Oct. 2, 2009 at Rogers Field.

BRITISH COLUMBIA THUNDERBIRDS (1-1-0)

CIS ranking: No. 4

Canada West Standings: 1st (Pacific – tied)

Last weekend: Victoria 4-1, W; UFV 1-0, L

Streak: 1 loss

2012 Canada West record: 11-0-3 (1st, Pacific)

2012 Canada West tournament: 2-0, 1st

2012 CIS tournament: 3-0, 1st

Last weekend, UBC did something it hasn’t done in nearly two calendar years: lose.

Prior to last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Fraser Valley, UBC had gone 27 matches, including non-conference, regular season and playoffs, without a loss, dating back to Nov. 6, 2011. And since that last loss, the T-Birds not only were the top regular season team in Canada Wets last year, but, with five straight playoff wins, promptly went on to win the 2013 CIS national title.

Now, with a 1-1 record, UBC finds itself in the rare situation of needing to bounce back from a loss.

However, when they take the pitch this weekend, the T-Birds will be forced to face the only team they didn’t beat last year.

In their two games against the Spartans, UBC came away with two draws on what was the final weekend of last year’s regular season. First, it was 0-0 at Rogers Field and then it was 2-2 back at UBC. For a relatively new-look T-Birds side, it’ll be paramount to get back in the win column this weekend.

While this year’s T-Birds side will miss Gagan Dosanjh, the addition of Niall Cousens, who previously played professionally in the Czech Republic, will go a long way to filling the gap. Captains Brandon Bonifacio, Marco Visintin and Devin Gunenc are also gone, but look for veterans like Will Hyde and Paul Clerc and second-years Tyler Mertens and Bryan Fong to hold a steady back line.

A deep midfield, led by Canada West First Team All-Star Navid Mashinchi will surely provide a big challenge for the Spartans this weekend.

The T-Birds haven’t lost in eight games to TWU, posting a record of 4-0-4.

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