After a cross-globe trip, the UBC men’s soccer team took home second place at the World Elite University Football Tournament (WEUFT) World Cup in Beijing in late June.
Hosted by Tsinghua University, the WEUFT consisted of 12 teams representing eight nationalities. Other participants included Cambridge University, Oxford University, Melbourne University, the University of Southern California, Peking University, Renmin University, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, the University of Tübingen, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Leiden University.
UBC received the invite to participate in August 2016 and was a first-time participant.
The ’Birds’ first game came only two days after a 14-hour flight. Despite the 13-hour time difference, UBC had a strong start to the tournament, picking up a massive 9-0 win over Peking University. Second-year striker Luke Griffin was the star of the game, scoring four of the team’s nine goals.
“[Peking] wasn’t the strongest team,” said Mosher. “It was nice to get a little bit of an easier first game with all the lengths we travelled.”
In the second game, UBC fought to a scoreless tie against Melbourne University. The team then overthrew the reigning WEUFT champions Renmin University, defeating them 5-1 in the quarterfinals where Ryan Arthur netted a hat trick.
The ’Birds punched their ticket to the championship game after a 2-0 shutout win over Oxford University. Still, the tournament ended in a silver medal as UBC fell 2-0 to Tübingen in the final match.
“I didn’t think we had our greatest game, but [Tübingen] was really strong,” said Mosher. “I’ve been … involved in the university game for almost 30 years now as a player and as a coach and [Tübingen] would rank up there.”
On top of the various teams they faced, the ’Birds had another tough opponent to battle — Beijing’s climate. Daytime temperatures were consistently in the 30-degree range with high humidity. Air quality also made outdoor conditions difficult.
“It was definitely some of the more difficult conditions I’ve experienced as a player and coach in all of my years,” said Mosher.
Still, he believes that the conditions of Beijing will better prepare the players for international play down the road.
“It’s good that our guys had the opportunity to go through this adversity. These are things you deal with when you start to play the game internationally,” said Mosher.
In the end, Mosher was impressed with his team’s performance and saw the tournament as a chance to prepare for the upcoming season in September.
“[The WEUFT] allowed us to really grow on the field, which is a real positive. It’s the equivalent to a really good preseason exercise,” said Mosher.