Second-year defender Sophie Jones scored for the Thunderbirds to open the scoring before Lindsey Cole potted the equalizer shortly after with both goals coming in the first half of play.
“Opening up the season against a tough opponent in Victoria was a great test for us,” said UBC head coach Robin D’Abreo on the team’s weekend opener. “From our perspective, we haven’t been preparing that long but these games gave us a good indication of our progress and playing against a strong squad gives us that luxury.”
The first half was filled with end-to-end action as both teams were awarded two penalty corners apiece, with UBC converting on one of their attempts and Victoria failing to take advantage of their two chances. Seven minutes into the match, UBC’s Jones made no mistake off a penalty corner pass from Hannah Haughn, beating Vikes’ goalkeeper Larissa Piva. This came after five minutes of sustained pressure by the Vikes as the Thunderbirds shifted the momentum into their favour.
Victoria responded nine minutes later as Cole, a first-year forward, found some open field and was sprung on a partial break before slipping a backhand flick past UBC goalkeeper Lauren Logush. Shortly thereafter, the Vikes had a goal disallowed off a shot from Annie Walters-Shumka that was deflected out front. But to Victoria’s dismay the goal was waved off due to an illegal shot.
With just over a minute remaining in the half, Victoria was awarded a penalty stroke but Kathleen Leahy failed to convert on the play, as Leahy couldn’t beat the outstretched pad of Logush. A defender’s foul in the circle spurred the play but the game remained at 1-1 at the first half’s conclusion.
To open the second half, the T-Birds had a flurry of penalty corner opportunities but couldn’t convert on any of the team’s four chances in the early stages. Fifth-year midfielder Poonam Sandhu had the best opportunity for the home team but couldn’t find the back of the net off a shot from mid-circle. The Vikes had several opportunities of their own thanks to a Jasmeen Dhaliwal penalty with the team’s best chance coming off a nifty passing play that resulted in a Leahy shot that failed to make it through traffic.
Sandhu nearly put away the go-ahead goal as time was winding down but couldn’t get her stick on the cross-field pass from Haughn as the ball zipped through the circle and out of play. The Vikes had three penalty corner chances of their own in the half but were unable to find the winning goal. The visitors had a great opportunity on a corner with 13:33 left in the game as Leahy fired a rocket just wide of the net.
Both teams enjoyed strong goaltending as Logush and Piva matched each other save for save all weekend.
The Thunderbirds sit in second in the Canada West with a 0-0-2 record and will have to wait another week for the team’s first victory, while Victoria finishes the weekend with a 2-0-2 record, good for first in the conference.
“We need to move the ball a bit quicker, we’re too long in our transition and we need to work on making good decisions coming out of the backfield,” remarked D’Abreo on where the team needs to improve moving forward. “Again the system is new and the girls are just starting to find their feet in that regard.”
Up next for the Thunderbirds is a two-game series against the Dinos in Calgary next weekend while Victoria has a bye week before hosting Calgary two weeks from now.