Kamloops, BC—Fans at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops, BC on Sunday can say they were there for history. The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s soccer team downed the University of Victoria Vikes 4-2 in Canada West play.
UVIC falls to 4-3-3 on the year while TRU improves to 2-6-2.
It was a match which WolfPack head coach John Antulov acknowledged was the biggest win since the program joined CIS less than two years ago.
“Without a doubt, “ he said. “ To beat one of the top teams in the country. They have such a storied history. For the last four games our guys have been playing well but not getting the results. It was nice to see the guys rewarded for the time they put in.”
The WolfPack and Vikes started even but TRU began to take over offensively. McDonalds/TRU Bookstore “Leader of the Pack” Mitchell Popadynetz (2nd year, forward, Nelson,BC) set the stage early when he broke down the left side and had Victoria keeper Noah Pawlawski (4th year, Vancouver, BC) at his mercy but rung it off the far post.
Victoria opened the scoring on a penalty kick in the 26 th minute. TRU’s Stef Shaw (4th year, defender, Duncan, BC) brought down Michael Baart (2nd year, forward, Victoria, BC) in the box. That resulted in Craig Gorman (5th year, midfielder, Victoria, BC) taking the shot and beating TRU keeper Travis Froehlich (5th year, Revelstoke, BC).
The WolfPack tied it up in the 32nd minute when Ryan Glanville (3rd year, forward, Williams Lake, BC) but on a great individual effort. He turned at the top of the box and with three Victoria defenders draped around him, he broke through and buried it for his seventh goal of the year. Shaw drew the assist.
Just before the half ended: in the 42nd minute, Glanville again drove towards the Victoria goal. He was hauled down and TRU was awarded a penalty kick. It was Popadynetz who took the shot, got his own rebound and made no mistake. His second goal of the campaign made it 2-1
“I thought Kamloops played pretty well today,” said Vikes coach Bruce Wilson. “ The first time we played them they were strong as well. I thought they played well today and in some parts of our game we did not.”
Wilson made a number of changes in the second half to his lineup : “You play two games in a row, you have to use your bench. Playing 90 minutes two days in a row is very demanding and difficult. I hope we were able to save some people for next week. They are very big in terms of where we go in playoffs.”
In that second half, the WolfPack made it 3-1 at the 54 minute mark. Logan Zimmerman (2nd year, midfielder, Kamloops, BC) flicked the ball ahead to Popadynetz who scored his second of the afternoon.
“Logan was brilliant today,” Antulov stated. “ Defensively, offensively getting into the attack and putting their backline under pressure. When we lost the ball he came back and helped. Logan was absolutely fantastic today.”
In the 84 th minute: TRU was awarded a free kick. Popadynetz took it and it wound up on the head of Finlay McPhie (2nd year, defender, Vernon, BC). He scored from a sharp angle to give TRU a 4-1 lead.
Victoria added another goal in the 89 th minute on a penalty kick . TRU’s Braeden Burrows (5th year ,defender, Kamloops, BC) pulled down Vikes midfielder Tarnvir Bhandal (3rd year, Victoria, BC). Gorman took the kick and beat Froehlich.
Froehlich made 10 saves in the game compared to three for Pawlowski. Each team had 17 shots in the contest.
Antulov had a heart to heart team with his crew after their 3-0 loss to unbeaten UBC on Saturday (Oct 17). He said they responded. “We talked about how hard they have worked. We talked about commitment, finishing the season strong and in front of our fans. The commitment and the battle have always been there. The guys just stepped it up today. It was nice to get some goals early. After that first penalty kick goal, the guys responded and were ready to go.”
The coach also gave credit to his backline especially the play of Burrows. “ Braeden yesterday against UBC and today was fantastic. His partnership with Finlay is really starting to form. They are hard to beat. Steffy (Stefan Shaw) is coming back into form and Adam Swanson (1st year, defender, North Vancouver, BC) as a young player is coming in. We changed it a bit today putting Corey (Wallis, 5th year, Enderby, BC) in front of him and they were fantastic.”
The WolfPack close out the regular season next weekend (Oct 24-25) at Hillside as they meet up with the UNBC Timberwolves. Sunday’s match will see the team honor their graduating players: Froehlich, Burrows, Wallis, Oriol Torres and Kyle Fertile.
UBC hosts Trinity Western on Friday (Oct 23) and Fraser Valley on Saturday (Oct 24).