VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s soccer team concluded the Canada West regular season with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the Trinity Western University Spartans on Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium.
With first place in the Pacific Division and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs already secured, UBC head coach Mike Mosher decided to field a younger team and rest his main players. Trinity Western entered the game with no chance of earning a playoff spot.
Thunderbirds’ rookie Karn Phagura had a dangerous header on goal in the 17th minute that just missed the target. Trinity Western later responded in the 25th minute with a long range shot from defender Taylor Johnson that was saved by goalkeeper Richard Meister.
TWU took a deserved lead in the 33rd minute when defensive confusion on the part of UBC allowed Spartans midfielder Mitchell Rohla to intercept a pass and finish the chance to put his team up 1-0 before halftime.
In the second half, coach Mosher gradually entered some of his usual starters into the game. The entrance of Milad Mehrabi, Sean Einarsson, Jules Chopin and Boris Si gave UBC a spark and caused a lot of problems for the Spartans defence.
TWU broke through in a 3-on-1 counter attack that was wasted with a bad final pass. The Spartans later paid the price for that miss as a Thunderbirds free kick produced the equalizing goal just five minutes from time. A high cross met defender Bryan Fong‘s head, who gently nodded the ball over to Sean Einarsson, who in turned headed it into the open goal.
UBC went on full attack mode in the last minutes to steal a late win but failed to capitalize on two great chances by Phagura and Si.
For the third year in a row, the T-Birds (9-2-1) finish as the top team in the Pacific Division.
“We had one eye on the playoffs for the past three weeks and now we are ready for the important part of the season,” said UBC head coach Mike Mosher, whose team will open the Canada West league playoffs against the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday night at 7 p.m. on David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium.
The Heat finished fourth in the Pacific Division with a record of 5-5-2.