Championship reign comes to an end for the Thunderbirds

Paul Clerc

Saskatoon, SK – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s soccer team’s reign as conference and national champion has come to an end. The Thunderbirds lost 2-0 to the Alberta Golden Bears in the Canada West semi final at the Final Four hosted by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon Friday afternoon.
With the win Alberta booked a ticket to the Canada West Championship match Saturday afternoon and to the CIS Championship next week hosted by the UPEI Panthers. It is the first time since 2012 the Golden Bears will appear in either. The Thunderbirds will play in tomorrow’s bronze medal game.
Canada West All-Star Niko Saler scored the first Golden Bears’ goal on a penalty kick in the 19th minute. Alberta was awarded the kick after 2014 Canada West Rookie of the Year Chris Serban hauled down an Alberta player in the box and was given a yellow card.

UBC felt the pressure and responded with a full attack approach that resulted in three corner kicks and a shot off target in the space of just four minutes. However, the score would remain 1-0 through 45 minutes of action.

It wasn’t until the 74th minute that Alberta added the insurance goal. Keeper Connor James, aided by the wind, sent a ball to the other end of the field landing on the feet of Jermele Campbell. Campbell’s quick shot bent into the top left corner of the UBC net over an outstretched Luke O’Shea.
UBC had opportunities to get back in the match with three free kicks just outside the Alberta box. But either the wind would catch the ball or an Alberta player was able to get feet on the ball before UBC. A last push by the Thunderbirds resulted in a Milad Mehrabi shot that went high (84th minute) and a wide Navid Mashinchi header (90th minute). 
James finished making three saves, keeping the Golden Bears in the match. UBC had outshot the Golden Bears 10-5.
The bronze medal match is scheduled for 10:30 am PST Saturday against the loser of the Saskatchewan/Victoria game.