LANGLEY, British Columbia – UBC’s Jasmine Mander scored in the in the 85th minute and the Thunderbirds earned a 1-0 win over MacEwan in the Canada West semifinals Saturday at Chase Office Field. With the win, UBC advances to the Canada West final for the second year in a row while also securing a berth in the CIS national championship.


The T-Birds held much of the game’s possession and had the edge in chances, but it took until late before UBC was able to finally break through the goaltending of MacEwan’s Emily Burns.


Mander took a shot from well out that was destined for the top corner. Burns leaped and got a hand to it, but not quite enough as the ball slipped in under the crossbar.


The T-Birds will be looking to defend their Canada West title, which they won last year thanks to a 1-0 win over Trinity Western. UBC is aiming for its 15th conference championship.


Despite the T-Birds outshooting 20-10, Burns was a special force for the Griffins, making nine saves and keeping the game scoreless until Mander’s late-game goal.


“It was a good performance,” said UBC coach Jesse Symons. “We came out really strong and we were unlucky not to score in the first 20 minutes. Credit to MacEwan because they defended really well and made it difficult for us. As we have learned over the season, when we need a goal, we’re going to keep going and I think because we dealt with that adversity earlier in the year, we were able to deal with it today. It was a deserved win and we’re really excited for our match tomorrow against Trinity Western.”


Sunday’s Canada West gold medal match, featuring TWU and UBC, is scheduled for 4 p.m. (PT) at Chase Office Field. The bronze medal game, which will see MacEwan play Saskatchewan, who lost to TWU in the early semifinal, will start at 1:30 p.m. (PT).


“The Canada West final is always the game you want to play and I think TWU wants to play UBC and we want to play TWU,” Symons said. “It’s a great rivalry and we play each other a lot and players have played with each other growing up. These are two great programs and they’re two good teams that want to play.”


The top three Canada West finishers will earn berths into the CIS national championship, which will be hosted by Acadia Nov. 10-13.


After an hour and half delay to the start of the game due to rainy conditions and puddle-ridden field, the T-Birds came out strong and pressed early, looking for that first marker.


Jasmin Dhanda nearly put UBC up in the 16th minute, but, while her rocket from atop the box evaded Burns, the ball thumped off the cross bar.


The T-Birds continued to push on, but each time they found the target, Burns, who made six saves in the half, was better.


In the second half, the Griffins showed more push back as the teams battled back and forth for that breakthrough goal.


However, despite MacEwan closing the shot gap – UBC outshot the Griffins 8-5 in the second half – UBC goalie Marlee Maracle, who finished with four saves, was solid every time she was called upon.


In the 85th minute, UBC finally found the game-winner. Aman Shergill got the ball to Mander, who whipped a shot to the top right corner, sneaking it just past Burns.


“It was tough conditions today for both teams,” said MacEwan coach Dean Cordeiro. “UBC is a motivated team and they have a lot of experience in their group. We have a very young side at MacEwan but our girls hung in there. We knew we’d probably absorb early on until we found our comfort levels and we did. In the second half we made some adjustments and I felt we pushed more and created some opportunities. Emily Burns was stellar all game long but they finally found one. We had the game where we wanted, but unfortunately they were resilient and they got the goal they were looking for.”


Game Notes: In UBC’s two games with TWU, the T-Birds were 0-1-1…MacEwan earned a 1-0 win over Saskatchewan in its only game against Huskies…MacEwan will be looking to qualify for the national championships tournament for the first time in its program’s history.