PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia – A late goal from Cody Fransen allowed the Trinity Western Spartans to rally for a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the UNBC Timberwolves in the Canada West season opener for both sides at NCSSL Field, in Prince George, B.C.
“We started a little bit nervous and it took us a while to get rolling and we gave up a “bad goal early on. But we fought our way back and the guys were resolved to fight back and do the things that we needed to do to win the game,” commented TWU head coach Mike Shearon. “We were able to take advantage of UNBC was giving us, but they were very hard to break down. And they are dangerous on the counter attack, which made things difficult for us.”
“I’m super proud of the guys and the way we played. Pleased with the result, but it is only a stepping stone and we have to come out tomorrow night and play with the same intensity. It is going to be a difficult game and we are going to have to show up and give everything we have.”
The skies opened up throughout the game, with the ball sliding on bounces and occasionally causing problems for the keepers. TWU’s Andrew Hicks (Surrey, B.C.) made two saves to earn the victory, while UNBC’s Mitch MacFarlane (Prince George, B.C.) made seven saves in the loss.
Elijah Adekugbe (Calgary) also scored for Trinity Western (1-0-0), on a pretty strike into the top corner, while Cheona Edzerza (Prince George, B.C.) replied for UNBC (0-1-0).
“Elijah scored a fantastic goal and really ignited us in our future play,” commented Shearon. “And Cody gave us a huge aerial advantage and was able to get the winner off of a rebound. Credit to him for keeping his feet moving and doing what we wanted him to do.”
There were chances aplenty on both sides, with the Spartans getting 20 shots (nine on goal) to UNBC’s 11 (three on goal).
Joel Waterman (Aldergrove, B.C.) paced the Spartans with seven shots, three on goal.
The Timberwolves struck early, as a strong battle from Conrad Rowlands (Chilliwack, B.C.) freed the ball up in the Spartans 18-yard box. Rowlands touched the ball to Edzerza, who made no mistake in going high on keeper Andrew Hicks for a 1-0 UNBC lead 15 minutes in.
Trinity Western gradually increased its pressure afterward, and their persistence was rewarded in the 26th minute when Adekugbe struck from about 25 yards out, taking a pass from Mitchell Urzinger (Langley, B.C.) and beating MacFarlane to level the match at 1-1 going into halftime.
UNBC had a great chance to go up early in the second half, but a threatening cross from Rowlands couldn’t find any Timberwolves in the box.
Fransen, who came on for Vito Poletto (Calgary) at halftime, put the Spartans ahead to stay in the 75th minute as MacFarlane bobbled a low drive from Waterman on the outside, allowing the Lynden, Wash. native to pounce on the rebound for the game-winning marker.
The rain really came down in the final 15 minutes of the match, though it ultimately didn’t produce any further scoring.
UNBC had a great chance in extra time, but Francesco Bartolillo couldn’t quite get a handle on the ball in the box.
The Spartans will aim for a weekend sweep when the two teams clash again on Saturday at 7 p.m. The match can be seen live on Canadawest.tv.
Match notes: The Spartans finished the night outshooting the Timberwolves 20-11 in total shots and 9-3 in shots on target…TWU had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks…Tonight’s win was the first Canada West win for TWU first year head coach Mike Shearon.