LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 2-ranked Trinity Western women’s soccer team tallied two first half goals and that was all it would need as the Spartans knocked off UBC Okanagan 3-0 in the Canada West Play-In Saturday at Chase Office Field. With the win, TWU advances to the Canada West Final Six, which the Spartans will host.
Coming off an undefeated season, the top-seeded Spartans were the heavy favourites coming into the game and they looked the part in their playoff opener as Nicole Bolder (Calgary) and Isabella Di Trocchio (Burnaby, B.C.) scored three minutes apart in the first half and Kathleen Chin (Calgary) tallied late in the second half to pace TWU to a convincing win.
Bolder opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Di Trocchio doubled TWU’s lead in the 23rd minute. Chin, who hadn’t played since Sept. 10 due to injury, came on as a substitution late in the second half and scored in the 87th minute.
Playing in their first ever Canada West playoff game, the Heat were held to just two shots on goal, while goalie Chloe Ainsworth made three saves for UBCO. Ally Williamson (Langley) made two saves to earn the clean sheet for the Spartans.
“It was a tricky game because they’re a decent team and they’re very organized and defended us very well,” said Spartans coach Graham Roxburgh. “I think they probably set out to frustrate us early on, which they did. It took a couple of good runs and intelligent moves and then a scrappy goal to get us going. But we’ve been working on our finishing and Nicole had a fantastic finish at the back post. That probably settled us down and the second goal, which was a great goal, really settled us down.”
The Spartans will now host the Canada West Final 6 next week, starting Thursday, at Chase Office Field. By virtue of being the top seed in the Pacific Division, TWU receives a bye directly into Saturday’s semifinal at 1 p.m. (PT).
“We love playing at home,” Roxburgh said. “It’s a special place with special crowds. We’re comfortable and we’re familiar here. I think our players really enjoy playing here. But we have to be better than we were tonight. We know that there are some really good teams that are going to come here next weekend, so we have to be ready, but it should be exciting.”
TWU nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Amy Gartke (Edmonton) had a chance from 10 yards out, but her blast was stopped by a diving Ainsworth.
Bolder sparked the TWU offence when she buried a rebound from 15 yards out. Seina Kashima (Burnaby) started the play breaking down the left side before sending the ball into the box. Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale, B.C.) took the first crack on goal, but while her attempt was blocked, the ball landed right at the foot of Bolder, who slotted it to the low left corner.
Three minutes later, Di Trocchio headed home a Lindsey Pulice (Burnaby) cross off the right wing to put the Spartans firmly in the lead.
The Spartans largely held possession throughout the match, but the Heat and goalie Ainsworth did well to keep TWU off the board the rest of the way.
UBCO pushed to get back into the game late, but the Spartans back line held the Heat without a clear-cut chance.
In the waning moments, Di Trocchio took the ball around UBCO’s keeper and slipped it into the middle of the six-yard box to a wide open Chin, who tapped it into an open net.
Game Notes: This is the 13th straight year TWU has qualified for the Canada West playoffs…TWU has won seven of the last 12 Canada West titles…in their regular season meeting this year, TWU beat UBCO 3-0 on the road…TWU had an 18-5 edge in shots and 12 corners to the Heat’s one.