Men's soccer topples Spartans, remain undefeated and gain top spot in Pacific division

In a top-of-table clash, the UBC Thunderbirds (4-0-1) put on a second-half show for fans at Thunderbird Stadium on Friday night, taking down division leaders Trinity Western (4-1-0) with a 3-0 win.

“I think we were a little bit lethargic. We were kind of content to play at a slower pace in the first half,” UBC head coach Mike Mosher said of the match. “We challenged [the team] at half-time to … play at a faster tempo, which we’re capable of doing, and it was nice to see a good response.”

It was some of the team youngsters who provided much of UBC’s attack. Second-years Kerman Pannu and Manraj Bains both notched a goal, alongside an assist for both Pannu and fellow second-year Titouan Chopin.

“We’ve brought them along through the pre-season and now they’re a big part of what’s going right right now,” Mosher said of the younger members of the squad. “We’re pretty happy with the recruiting class we had coming in and I think we’re seeing them perform at a level maybe beyond what we might have even hoped, so it’s fun to watch.”

The first half proved an even match up, as both defences held strong in their own halves.

Both sides had some chances though, with UBC providing the first attempt on net in the seventh minute. On the breakaway, Thunderbird midfielder Pannu got a shot away in the Spartans box. Unfortunately for him, Trinity’s keeper Andrew Hicks got his hands on the low-ball to keep the home side at bay.

Late in the half, the Spartans produced the most convincing chance of the first 45 minutes. Getting on the end of a low corner, midfielder Mitchell Urzinger blasted a shot across the face of goal, just missing the left post.

UBC wasted no time picking up the intensity in the second. In the 49th minute, substitute Lucas Reis sent a short ball in to Pannu from the left flank. The Surrey United alumni finished off the play with a rocket of a shot into the back of the net, putting the T-Birds up 1-0.

In the 56th, the ’Birds capitalized on a Fraser Valley goalkeeper fumble in the box. Taking advantage of the turnover, Titouan Chopin played a short pass to Reis at the top of the six and Reis’s ensuing shot sailed past Hicks, doubling UBC’s lead.

To make matters worse for the visiting side, UBC made it three goals just two minutes later, as left fullback Manraj Bains headed Pannu a corner past Hicks and into the net.

That would be the final goal for the home team, propelling them to the top of the Pacific division standings with a 3-0 win.

“We look at ourselves as the team to beat — it’s very much about what we’re going to do,” said Mosher when asked about the team’s success against a fellow top-of-table side.

“We’ll look a little bit at what some other teams do and make sure that our guys are up to speed, but we always emphasize that it’s about us and if we can do the things that we want to do correctly, then we’re a darn hard team to beat.”