Spartans keep pace in playoff race with win over UNBC

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October 19, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s soccer team took another step towards a Canada West playoff spot with a 3-0 win over UNBC Friday at Rogers Field.

Under a dense fog that forced the game to be delayed because of travel issues for UNBC (2-7-2), the Spartans (4-6-1) were full marks for their win in a contest that saw chances galore but only three finished products.

The Spartans Jarvis Ambaka (Maragoli, Kenya) opened the scoring in the 33rd minute before Denny Serifovic (Richmond, B.C.) doubled TWU’s lead in the 48th minute and Nathaniel Turner (Langley) rounded out the scoring in the 90th minute.

The win keeps TWU within three points of Fraser Valley for the third and final Pacific Division playoff spot. The Spartans have three games remaining while the Cascades, who beat Calgary 2-1 Friday, have just one.

Timberwolves goalie Tyrone Venhola had to be sharp on a number of occasions as he made 11 saves on the 14 shots he faced. All told, TWU outshot UNBC 37-12 and had a 14-5 edge in shots on target. The Spartans Andrew Hicks (Surrey, B.C.) made five saves to pick up his third clean sheet in as many games.

The Spartans and Timberwolves are back on the field Saturday at 7 p.m. for the second of their two-game weekend series.

“I think we continued to create opportunities for ourselves tonight,” said Spartans coach Pat Rohla. “We had a handful of scoring chances tonight and, while their keeper made a couple of good saves, I think most of it was our misses.

“Overall it was a good performance. I thought Mitchell Rohla (Langley) was stellar tonight. The back line looked pretty good. I think we’re moving in the right direction with three goose eggs in a row now. I’m pleased for the guys because the things we’ve been working on came to fruition tonight.”

Trinity Western, playing against former Spartans men’s soccer coach Al Alderson, who is now coaching UNBC, was the better team from outset as they funneled the ball towards the Timberwolves net early and often.

Ambaka had a litany of opportunities over the course of the first half as did Sam Delfs (Edmonton), Jerome Lou (Surrey, B.C.) and Brayden Gant (Maple Ridge, B.C.), but none could find mesh until Ambaka eventually broke through in the 33rd minute.

Rohla broke down the right wing and sent a perfectly timed pass into a streaking Ambaka, who deflected it beyond the hands of a helpless Venhola.

The Timberwolves responded with pressure, most notably from the ever-energized Tofa Fakunle, but were unable to penetrate the Spartans back line to create quality scoring opportunities.

A few minutes prior to the halftime whistle, UNBC’s Connor Noftle was sent off with a straight red card after a hard tackle on the Rohla. Already down a goal and playing a man short for the entire second half, the Timberwolves were certainly going to be in tough.

And early on in the second half, Serifovic tallied the balloon-bursting goal.

Less than three minutes in, Andrew Phillips (Lake Errock, B.C.) sent a cross from the left side into the box that fell to the feet of Serifovic and the half-time substitute slotted it home for his first of the campaign.

After a variety pack of chances for TWU to extend its lead, Turner capitalized in the 90th minute. Again, it was Phillips sending the ball into the box from the right side and, with Turner alone in the middle, the substitute striker finished well.

Game Notes: TWU’s Carlos del Aguila (Langley) and Ambaka both were shown yellow cards.