VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds suffered their second loss of the Canada West men’s soccer season 2-1 on Friday night as they fell victim to a late comeback by their rivals, the University of Victoria Vikes.
Victoria head coach Bruce Wilson decided to rest his usual starters and fielded players with lesser experience. While coach Mike Mosher did not include Navid Mashinchi on the team roster for the game, but still depended on a rather strong starting eleven.
The Thunderbirds’ first dangerous moment came from a trademark right-footed Milad Mehrabi free kick that hit the crossbar in the 13th minute.
Later Mehrabi almost had his goal with a beautiful long-range curved ball from the left wing that went over the bar in the 21st minute. UBC had ball possession but failed to capitalize on their chances until the last minute of the first half. A great cross from the right found Niall Cousens who brilliantly back tapped it to the forward coming Jules Chopin who buried it in the top of the net, allowing UBC to enter the break with a 1-0 lead.
Thunderbirds goalkeeper Luke O’Shea prevented Victoria from getting on the scoreboard with a solid save off Victoria’s Paulo Dait in the 63rd minute.
A 68th-minute Vikes substitution proved to be the turning point of the game when midfielder Dominic Colantonio came in for Scot Jones.
The Vikes came back in to the game when the referee awarded them a penalty in the 82nd minute. It was Colantonio that put the Vikes back in the game with a well-executed penalty kick.
After that goal the Thunderbirds tried to respond back with pushing forward, but an offside play turned in to a counterattack by Victoria that was ended with a cool finish from Colantonio, securing the home side a vital win in the 90th minute.
Despite the loss, the Thunderbirds (9-2) still clinched first place in the division tonight. Even if Victoria wins and UBC loses in their respective finales this weekend to finish even in points and head-to-head results, the Thunderbirds would still hold the second tiebreaker, which is goal difference in head-to-head competition between the tied teams.
The Thunderbirds will host Trinity Western in the last game of the regular season on Sunday at 2 p.m. on David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium.