In a game that had just about everything, the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves and Trinity Western Spartans each had to settle for a single point, playing to a 3-3 draw on Friday, September 7th, 2018.
The action started from the get-go, with the Spartans drawing first blood just 47 seconds into the game. A breakdown on the defensive end allowed Cody Fransen a path to the net, and he make no mistake, potting his third goal of the Canada West season.
Twenty minutes later, more pressure from Trinity led to an opportunity for Vaggeli Boucas off a set play. TWolves keeper Rob Goodey had no chance, as Boucas headed the ball just under the bar off a corner kick, making it 2-0 for the visitors.
The Timberwolves had a number of opportunities, with the duo of Pierre Barrafranca and Francesco Bartolillo creating chances around Spartans keeper Sebastian Colyn, but to no avail. Despite leading 7-6 in shots, UNBC found themselves trailing by a pair after 45 minutes.
The second half was a physical battle, but the TWolves found themselves applying pressure in the TWU end. Cody Gysbers got his first goal of the season in the 59th minute, bringing the Prince George crowd to life, and drawing the home side to within one.
Boucas said the physicality and emotion between the two sides was not a surprise to anyone on the pitch.
“We have guys who have been here for five years, and they do too. That is how that physicality comes out. You do one thing to frustrate a guy, and they want to get back at you. We just need to keep the game clean, fair, and physical, because it was a good battle today.”
The crowd wouldn’t have to wait much longer for the equalizer. Freshman Anthony Preston brought the fans to their feet when he applied pressure to Colyn when the keeper was getting set to send a ball deep. Colyn kicked off the ball off Preston’s back, over his head, and into the gaping cage, making it a 2-2 contest.
“We were looking for energy in that second half, so when the ball broke loose, I just tried to put pressure on the goalie,” said Preston. “When he took a touch I thought I could get to it. It just happened, but it was a great feeling.”
Two minutes later, and another critical moment in the match. The official ruled a Spartan was taken down in the box, awarding a penalty kick to Caleb Johnson. However, Goodey guessed correctly, closed off the right side of the net, and Johnson kicked it wide of the post, keeping this one knotted at two.
“That was a shift for us,” said Preston. “Rob did a good job to get in his head, and he missed it. They had another chance right after, and missed that too. So, we felt like we could go on and win it.”
In the 89th minute, freshman Michael Henman proved why he was a prized recruit, beating a defender and sending a beautiful ball far post, where Bartolillo was waiting. The native of Calgary made no mistake, giving the TWolves their first lead of the game in the dying minutes.
That lead, however, was short-lived, as Trinity Western star Joel Waterman found himself open just one minute later in a scramble around the Timberwolves net. He buried his first of the campaign and leveled the score at three apiece.
“Credit to them, they scored three goals to come back,” said Boucas. “From our standpoint, we need to be better. We need to put our chances away and keep the ball out of our net. We got the point, but we wanted three tonight.”
With the draw, the Spartans move to 1-1-2, while the Timberwolves now sit at 0-0-2. The rematch is set for Saturday, September 8th, at 6 PM at Masich Place.
“The first goal tomorrow will be crucial,” said Boucas postgame. “The momentum swung back and forth today, but I think the first goal tomorrow will settle the nerves of whatever team gets it.”