Coming off of a consolation crown finish in 2016, UBC men’s soccer picked up two shutout victories to debut the 2017 season.
For T-Birds head coach Mike Mosher, the two wins are a sign that the team is headed in the right direction.
“It’s still early days and this group has got a lot of work [to do],” said Mosher. “We feel as we grow as a team, we will start to score more goals, so it’s nice to have fun that first weekend with a couple of clean sheets.”
The ’Birds played the first game of the doubleheader against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades, coming out with a 1-0 win. UBC’s only goal came from freshman Victory Shumbusho in the 27th minute.
T-Bird goalkeeper Chad Bush also made a critical save on a penalty shot by UFV’s Jun Won Choi in the 39th. Mosher believes Bush’s netminding played a key role in the final outcome of the game.
“[Bush] commanded his box really well, really alleviated the pressure for our back four,” said Mosher. “We know we’ve got probably the best goalkeeper in the country.”
The score of the second game was again 1-0 in favour of UBC. This time, the ’Birds faced the Trinity Western University Spartans — they were second to the ’Birds in the Canada West Pacific Division last year.
“[Trinity] is one of the biggest competitors to getting the top spot, so this is a really big win,” said T-Birds midfielder Kyle Sohi after the game.
Both teams created close scoring opportunities in the first half, but thanks to solid defence, the game remained scoreless after 45 minutes. UBC nearly took the lead in the 43rd, when Mackenzie Cole managed to put the onion in the bag from inside the goal area, but the play was called offside.
After a long stalemate, luck finally struck for the ’Birds in the 56th minute when Sohi got a penalty shot to put UBC up 1-0.
“[Sohi] has had a lot of injuries in his first three years so it’s nice to see him get that winning goal,” said Mosher.
As one of the more senior players on the team, Sohi was impressed by the performance of the younger players over the weekend.
“A lot of the guys, they play with maturity, so that helps a lot,” said Sohi. “As seniors, we try to make it as easy as we can for [the younger players], but most of them, they’re up there.”
The ’Birds will play their next game on the road against the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, September 2.