VANCOUVER, BC — With points needed for their playoff push it looked like the UBC Okanagan men’s soccer team was on their way to playing the UBC Thunderbirds to a second draw this season and earning an all important point in the Pacific Division standings.
In extra time UBC striker Ryan Arthur’s his first career goal in U Sports sent the home T-Birds to a (1-0) victory over the visibly dejected UBCO on the Thunderbird Stadium turf in Vancouver on Friday evening.
Arthur came into the game between the Thunderbirds (8-1-6) and the Heat (5-8-2) with a mere 12 minutes remaining and used all that time before scoring the biggest marker of the T-Birds season. As Arthur was being tackled by his joyous teammates the referee blew the final whistle and the ‘Birds had secured a 1-0 victory along with first place in the Canada West Pacific Division.
“I looked up and it was like slow motion,” said Arthur when asked about his strike from the top of the 18-yard box that flew straight into the top left corner of the net. “It just glided into the top of the net. Everyone just swarmed me and then the whistle blew.”
Up until Arthur’s magical moment, Heat keeper Mitch McCaw was undoubtedly the man of the match. McCaw made five saves, including a highlight reel stop off T-Bird Manpal Brar in the 29th minute. Brar looked like he had the top corner picked out, but McCaw stretched out and pushed the ball over the crossbar.
McCaw made another beauty in the 75th minute when he dove to catch a piece of Jules Chopin’s free kick from just outside 20 yards, knocking it past the left post.
The back row for the Heat picked up their keeper when McCaw needed it, twice Hamish Walde cleared the ball from the danger zone to keep the match scoreless.
UBC keeper Chad Bush wasn’t nearly as busy, but made the saves when he had to. The shutout was nice one for Bush, who missed seven games this season with a shoulder injury.
Although the Heat were outshot 15-5 by the Thunderbirds with McCaw stopping five shots and Bush turning away three. The best chance for UBC Okanagan came in the 75th minute when Luke Warkentin had beaten the UBC keeper with the ball clearly heading into the goal before a Thunderbird defender kicked the ball clear for a corner.
The three points pushes UBC’s season total to thirty, one more than regional rival Trinity Western and clinched the T-Birds home field advantage in the Canada West quarterfinals. UBC Head Coach Mike Mosher knows his team can’t wait until the dying seconds to tally once playoffs come around.
The Heat remain just two points behind the TRU WolfPack for the fourth and final playoff spot after the ‘Pack allowed two second half goals to fall the the Vikings in Victoria (2-1).
UBC Okanagan will need a win over the Vikings on Saturday when close out their 2016 Canada West campaign in Victoria and a loss by TRU to UBC as the regular season closes out on Saturday night when they host Thompson Rivers at Thunderbird Stadium.