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Payne’s early marker lifts TWolves over Pack to open season

The University of Northern British Columbia Women’s Soccer team got out to an early lead, and carried it the rest of the way, topping the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack 1-0, Thursday, September 5th in Prince George, B.C.

Despite being the first game of the Canada West season, both teams acknowledged prior to the match that any clash between them could have potential playoff ramifications. Just five minutes in, Canada West All-Star Paige Payne found herself in all alone, getting behind the Pack backline. TRU keeper Danielle Robertson was up to the task, turning away a blast from the Kitimat native to keep it scoreless.

Just five minutes later, UNBC’s Mikaela Cadorette played the ball to the top of the box, where Sofia Jones deftly fed Payne in space. She wouldn’t be denied a second time, beating Robertson top corner, for her first of the season, making it a 1-nil game.

The Timberwolves continued to apply pressure to the TRU backline, sending balls over the top where Payne and Jones were wreaking havoc. Robertson was stellar, however and the half ended with a one goal margin.

“We knew they were a physical team, so we wanted to play direct and see where it would get us,” said Payne. “It ended up working out. We have a lot of speedy strikers up front, and a lot of players who can hit those long balls. We were able to keep possession, and the team effort came together really well.”

The heat of the Prince George sun began to visibly wear on both sides in the second half. UNBC was able to maintain much of the possession, while keeping Chantal Gammie, TRU’s star striker in check.

“Every day at training, we test ourselves and we push eachother. Whether it’s a foul in practice, or not, we get up and push eachother. That helped us today. We needed to bring our game and get on the ball, and prove we could stay on the ball.”

In the 78th minute, UNBC had another good chance when Jones found senior Julia Babicz with time and space streaking the left side. She hammered the ball from 20 yards, over Robertson but off the crossbar.

The WolfPack’s best chance would come in the 90th minute, after a turnover in the UNBC third. It landed on the foot of the player TRU would prefer get such an opportunity, with Gammie getting a crack from the top of the box, but Brooke Molby was there to go to ground and make the save.

When the final whistle blew, UNBC held an 18-8 margin in shots, including 10-6 on net. 

“We were excited to come in and play these guys,” said Robertson. “We have to play them twice, so we will be definitely looking for points and results next time. It gives us something to work towards.”
With the victory, UNBC improves to 1-0-0, while the Pack fall to 0-1-0. TRU now hits the road for Calgary where they’ll play the Dinos on Saturday.

“We hop on the bus right after the game, for eight hours,” said Robertson, postgame. “We have a day off tomorrow, so hopefully we can rest our legs and get back out there.”

UNBC will play host to the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, as part of the Party in. the Park festivities at Masich Place. They hope to see a crowd even bigger than the 800 in attendance on Thursday afternoon.

“That was awesome. The crowd got louder and it brought an energy that made us want to hold on for that win,” said Payne. “We had so many opportunities. So many young players made their debuts, and they put in a great effort, so a round of applause for them too.”

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