Vancouver – The reigning CIS Champion and Pacific Division top seed Trinity Western Spartans will host the UBC Thunderbirds this Friday in the opening game of the Canada West playoffs. The quarter-final match slated for 6 p.m. in Langley at Roger’s Field occurs just five days after the Thunderbirds defeated the Spartans in the regular season finale, TWU’s first loss in nearly two seasons.
For Trinity Western, this Friday marks the beginning of the team’s quest for a CIS Championship three-peat; the first time in history a team could accomplish that feat.
Trinity Western finished atop the Canada West standings with a 10-1-1 record giving the Spartans home field advantage as they host the 6-4-2 T-Birds, who finished fourth in the Pacific Division. The top four teams were never in jeopardy of missing the playoffs as the bottom three teams combined for just three wins during the regular season.
The Thunderbirds will look to play spoiler as Trinity Western comes in as the favourite and the nation’s No. 2 ranked team, having held the top spot since September 30 before Ottawa took over the top spot in the most recent national rankings. Overall, the two teams split their season series with Trinity Western winning 3-0 before UBC evened up the head-to-head record with a 1-0 victory in the season’s final game. The Spartans rested Canada West goal scoring runner-up Jessica King, the 2013 CIS tournament MVP Vanessa Kovacs, as well as All-Canadians Jennifer Castillo and Krista Gommeringer in the season finale.
The visiting Thunderbirds will need third-year keeper Emily Wilson to be at her best, as the Spartans boast the highest-scoring offence in the Canada West, averaging 2.6 goals per game. King finished the season with 12 goals while Jasmin Dhanda was the T-Birds top scorer with six goals during the regular season. Wilson backstopped UBC in nine of the 12 games this season earning five shutouts in the process.
Last season, the Thunderbirds won its opening game of the Canada West playoffs beating the Calgary Dinos before dropping its semi-final match versus the Alberta Pandas in extra time. UBC would finish its season with a loss against the Victoria Vikes in the third place game, dropping a 1-0 affair in penalty kicks.
The Trinity Western Spartans took a 10-game undefeated streak into the Canada West playoffs before dropping the Canada West Final against the Alberta Pandas in extra time. Both Alberta and TWU advanced to the CIS Championship as the Spartans went on to win three straight en route to the CIS Championship banner.
The Spartans have seen the most success at home this season winning all six games at Roger’s Field. The Thunderbirds have had similar success at home but boast an unfavourable 1-4-1 record on the road, an issue that will have to be overcome if UBC wants to extend their season beyond Friday. The last time the Spartans and Thunderbirds met in playoff action was in 2009, where Trinity Western beat UBC 1-0 in the Canada West gold medal match.
The winner of Friday’s match will advance to the Canada West Final Four alongside either UFV or Victoria in addition to two other teams from the Prairie Division. The Pacific Division’s highest seed will host the prequel to the CIS Women’s Soccer Championship.
The game can be seen this Friday at 6:00 pm live on canadawest.tv.