TWU Spartans keep playoff hopes alive with 1-1 draw

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October 19, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) – The Trinity Western men’s soccer team remained alive in the Pacific Division playoff race as the Spartans played to a 1-1 tie with UNBC Saturday at Rogers Field.

With third place Fraser Valley winning Saturday, the Spartans (4-6-2) needed at least a point to give themselves a chance at the post-season. With a 63rd minute goal from Brayden Gant (Maple Ridge, B.C.) tying the contest, TWU got, at the very least, the point it needed. While the Spartans had plenty of second-half chances to tally what would have been a precious go-ahead marker, the home side had to settle for the draw against a feisty UNBC (2-7-3) side. The Timberwolves Cheona Edzerza opened the scoring in the 41st minute.

The Spartans have two games remaining, against Calgary Oct. 26 and Lethbridge Oct. 27 on the road, and need to win both if they are to surpass UFV, who currently sits five points clear of TWU for the final Pacific Division playoff spot.

The Timberwolves meanwhile were officially eliminated from post-season contention after a loss and a tie against TWU weekend.

“I thought we were lacklustre in the first half, but better in the second half and at the end of the day, the point really helped,” said Spartans coach Pat Rohla. “We can still write our own story.”

The Spartans, who outshot UNBC19-17 and had a 9-8 edge in shots on target, had a few early chances from Andrew Phillips (Lake Errock, B.C.) and Gant, but were unable to find the back of the net.

Then, with UNBC pressing, the Timberwolves broke through in the 41st minute. Tyson Hunter sent a corner into the near post and Edzerza got a deft touch on the ball, which altered its course just enough to squeak past TWU keeper Andrew Hicks (Surrey, B.C.).

“I thought the first half was absolutely void of energy and passion and the only guy I saw step up was Gant,” Rohla said.

Knowing that a loss would end their playoff hopes, the Spartans pushed hard for the equalizer in the second half.

“In the second half we played with a bit more optimism and enthusiasm and tried to press a bit more,” Rohla said. “And when we did that, it worked. But we can’t wait for someone else to carry our baggage. We need to carry our own baggage. We’re a young team, but we have to realize that when we step on the park, you have an obligation to drive as hard as you can and bring passion.”

After a few near goals for TWU, Gant got the necessary goal. In the 62nd minute, Phillips sent a corner into the box that Gant headed past UNBC goalie Tyrone Venhola.

Following the Spartans goal, the TWU pressure amped up. However, despite a few fantastic opportunities, TWU was unable to get the go-ahead marker.

The Timberwolves did well to counter when they got the chance and if not for a few close offside calls, may have put the Spartans post-season dreams to bed early.

Playing their final home game of the season, TWU honour seniors Rhys Volkenant (Surrey, B.C.) and Jordan Whitehead (Surrey, B.C.).

Game Notes: TWU had 10 corner kicks to UNBC’s 3…TWU’s Mitchell Rohla was shown a yellow card while UNBC’s Amedee Cimana and Edzerza each saw yellow.