The University of Northern British Columbia’s Men’s soccer team looked to its youth, and benefitted from an injection of speed and energy, topping the visiting Calgary Dinos 1-nil, Sunday September 23rd.
Timberwolves coach Steve Simonson was without regular starters Matt Jubinville and Josh McAvoy due to injury, instead calling on freshmen Michael Henman and Abou Cisse, the latter making the first start of his Canada West career.
From the get-to, the TWolves seemed energized, pressing the action against the Dinos. In the 35th minute, it was Henman who got the home side on the board.
Taking a great through ball from Owen Stewart, the native of Victoria streaked in, beating Calgary keeper Jake Ruschkowski to make it 1-nil. The goal marked the first of his UNBC career, thrilling the Prince George crowd.
“I thought I had the advantage on the fullback,” said Henman postgame. “I got a nice ball from Owen, the goalie got a touch on it, but it still went in. First goal, felt good.”
Early in the second half, the Dinos looked to respond, and possessed the ball in the TWolves end. However, keeper Rob Goodey was up to the task, making a pair of saves off Jared Fillo to keep the sheet clean.
UNBC would again turn the tables, and earn a number of excellent scoring opportunities. In the 68th minute, Cisse tested Ruschkowski, but the keeper turned him away, while also thwarting Pierre Barrafranca to keep it a one goal game.
In the 81st minute, freshman Anthony Preston would take a ball just outside the box and find himself with time and space. But, again, Ruschkowski was there with the diving save to his right.
“We were playing an attacking formation, so that made us a little weak at the back,” said Ruschkowski postgame. “It is a risk, sending more guys, but I was just trying to do my job to give our team a chance to win.”
The Dinos would get one final glorious opportunity off the foot of Mark Bohdan in the 86th minute. The midfielder would beat the outstretched arms of Goodey, but not the unforgiving crossbar, as it stayed out.
“It’s hard when you’re struggling to score goals,” said Ruschkowski. “You can’t win a game, if you don’t score. We were sending a lot of guys late in the game, but they were playing well out of the back.”
When the final whistle was blown, UNBC earned its third consecutive victory, improving to 3-1-2 on the season, while the Dinos would slip to 3-5-0.
Ruschkowski and Goodey each made six saves on the afternoon, with Goodey earning his third consecutive clean sheet.
“This is a first for me, being my first year here,” said Henman. “These guys are stoked, so I am stoked. It is awesome being a part of this team, and I couldn’t be happier for us to get these points.”
“Sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way,” said Ruschkowski. “We are definitely working hard, and we are going to keep practicing. The finishing side of the game is haunting us a little bit.”