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Timberwolves pull off second half comeback to beat Cascades 3-2

Heading into the final week of the Canada West regular season, the UNBC Timberwolves playoff chances are alive and well thanks to some incredible second half heroics on Sunday afternoon at Masich Place Stadium.

Trailing 2-0 at the halfway mark, the Timberwolves responded with three unanswered goals in the second half giving the hosts (4-7-2) a spectacular 3-2 home victory over the visiting University of the Fraser Valley Cascades (2-12). Connor Lewis struck twice for UNBC while rookie Koss Nystedt helped the TWolves complete the improbable comeback with his first career Canada West goal in the 86th minute. The final two UNBC goals of the day were made more impressive by the fact that they were a man down, as Michael Henman was removed from the game in the 73rd minute due to a red card. UFV received first half goals from Michael Beecroft and Matteo Brazinha.

The visitors came out flying and had the hosts playing defense early on. Five minutes into the match, Daniel Zadravec made an enormous save with his right leg off UFV’s leading scorer Kian Proctor to keep things scoreless.

But on the ensuing Bhagvir Sidhu corner kick, Michael Beecroft converted on a header to stake the Cascades to a 1-0 lead. For Beecroft it marked his second goal of the season.

Twenty minutes later, the Cascades doubled their lead when Mateo Brazinha found an opening up the middle after receiving a pass from Kian Proctor. Brazinha held a dribble until just outside the penalty area and then wired home his second of the CW season.

Some solid urgency from UNBC on the offensive side towards the end of the half, but each time the TWolves got possession inside the penalty area, the Cascades were able to hold the line. Michael Henman, Colin Stauffer, Julian Daduica and Theo Tate all managed first half shots that UFV goalkeeper Jackson Cowx turned aside.

The TWolves flew out of the gates in the second half and were rewarded early. Prince George’s own Connor Lewis raced down the right side of the pitch, took a slick feed from Gregor Smith and placed a perfect ball behind goalkeeper Jackson Cowx to get the home side on the board and the home crowd into a frenzy.

A tough moment for the home side in the 73rd minute when Michael Henman was assessed a red card and removed from the match. If the Timberwolves were going to complete the comeback, they’d need to do it without their all-time leading scorer.

Despite playing a man down, there was no quit in the home side. The TWolves earned a penalty kick in the 76th minute thanks to a UFV handball, and Connor Lewis wired home his second of the match by the diving Jackson Cowx to even the score at 2-2.

The urgency continued for UNBC, and with only four minutes remaining in regulation time, Wyatt Lyon placed a pristine crossing pass into the penalty area for Koss Nystedt. From there, the rookie defender from Victoria redirected home his first goal of the Canada West season, giving the TWolves a stunning 3-2 lead.

The shorthanded TWolves had to dig their heels in for some tense final moments as the second half featured seven minutes of injury time. But the home side withstood a late UFV crossbar, and a final corner kick in the waning seconds to secure their fourth victory of the season, while also ensuring that their games next weekend against the UBC Okanagan Heat have playoff implications.

For his two-goal effort, the Mr. Mike’s Player of the Game was Prince George’s Connor Lewis.

After the game, the five graduating UNBC seniors: Julian Daduica, Noah Ballinger, Gregor Smith, Michael Henman and Daniel Zadravec were all recognized and celebrated as they wrapped up their final Canada West home games. To Julian, Noah, Gregor, Michael and Daniel, thank you! Your efforts on the field, in the classroom and the community have all left the Timberwolves program in a better place. We wish all of you the very best in your remaining athletic, scholastic and personal endeavours.

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