Road to Gold: Success for swimming, men's soccer and rowing as fall hardware season kicks off

Road to Gold is The Ubyssey’s playoff rundown series. As UBC teams head into their playoff seasons each term, this series will continually track their progress in addition to weekly general varsity coverage.

Men’s soccer

It’s come to be expected from us here at The Ubyssey: men’s soccer win, all the time. This weekend, they played in the Canada West Final Four tournament hosted here on campus, and yep, you guessed it, they won the entire thing — their second Canada West title in as many years.

On Friday night, the Thunderbirds breezed to an epic 7-0 win against fellow Lower Mainlanders the University of Fraser Valley (UFV) Cascades, the second time this season they have put up that many goals in a match (though that time it was the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves who faced the humiliating defeat).

Victory Shumbusho looks to make a pass cross-field for UBC.
Victory Shumbusho looks to make a pass cross-field for UBC. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

Kristian Yli-Hietanen opened the scoring early for the T-Birds in just the fourth minute, with Victory Shumbusho doubling the lead less than 15 minutes later. The next to step up to the plate on goals was Zach Verhoven, who put way two in the span of ten minutes before the half-time whistle. From there, Caleb Clarke and Mackenzie Cole would score two more, alongside Shumbusho who scored his second on the night.

It was a dominant performance all around for the T-Birds, with more than double the shots UFV posted, as they coasted into the Canada West final against Trinity Western.

Sunday’s match was a bit more of a test for the Thunderbirds, who opted not to rest any of their players in preparation for nationals next weekend. They would score both of their goals in the first half from the feet of Connor Guilherme and Shumbusho. They would hold steady against the Spartans to claim the Canada West trophy.

This year, Canada West has proved a walk in the park for UBC. Going forward into the final eight championship, they will have to see how they fare against other regional greats.

Women’s soccer

On the other side of the UBC soccer camp, things did not go to plan for the women’s team out in Langley at the Trinity Western-hosted women’s Final Four.

In their semifinal match against the Calgary Dinos on Friday, all signs pointed to a UBC win when you consider all but the scoreline. In the 22nd minute, an errant hand to the face of T-Bird Emma Peckinpaugh earned Dino forward Natalie Arnett a red card. With just under 70 minutes left to play and an extra man in favour of UBC, it’s hard to believe the 'Birds wouldn’t capitalize — but they didn’t.

Calgary forward Madison Fritze would open the scoring in the 42nd minute. In the 51st, UBC striker Danielle Steer would get the ultimate glory opportunity for the Thunderbirds as a penalty kick was awarded. She stepped up to take it, but Calgary keeper Lauren Houghton would foil the second-year's attempt as she got her hands to the ball.

UBC’s Rachel Kordycz would even things up in the 77th, giving UBC 13 or so minutes to finally take advantage of the situation. It would be the Dinos, though, who would get the final say with an 87th minute run from Kelsie Macdonald through UBC’s central defenders and a shot ending up in the back of the net.

Another season and another time the women’s soccer team has been foiled on the road to nationals.

Perhaps inconsequentially with a national title out of reach, the T-Birds proceeded to lose their bronze medal match against the Alberta Golden Bears on Sunday in a penalty shootout. Some added salt in the wound, though, for sure.

Football

Things don’t get much better in this recap either — sorry.

After a huge season turnaround about a month ago that saw the UBC football team win three in a row, we were starting to get our hopes up about playoff season around here in the sports office.

With a 38-34 overtime win in their final regular season game last weekend, the football gods seemed to be on the Thunderbirds side. That is, until this weekend.

UBC looks on across Thunderbird Stadium.
UBC looks on across Thunderbird Stadium. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

More details on the match up are available in this weekend's edition of The Blitz. In short, it was a terrible end to a game for UBC. Leading by seven points with under a minute to go and the ball in their possession against the Saskatchewan Huskies, somehow things turned upside-down, and fast. Saskatchewan's Jesse Kuntz scored a touchdown with just 21 seconds to go to take the game to overtime. Once there, UBC missed their field goal attempt, only to see Husky Sean Stenger score a 38-yard field goal.

The final score would be 31-28 in favour of Saskatchewan, ending the T-Birds season.

Rowing

And now, we head back to some happier notes. Sure, this isn’t technically a part of a playoff run per say, but it is very much worth discussing nonetheless. Both the men’s and women’s rowing teams headed to Brock University this past weekend for the Canadian University Rowing Championships.

On the trip, the team made history by sweeping the men’s and women’s division — for the first time.

The men won their division for the third straight year, finishing with 100 points — 14 points ahead of their closest opponent in the Western Mustangs. The women, on the other hand, claimed the national title for the first time since 2004. They lead with 121 points ahead of Victoria at 105.

In coaching news, UBC’s Mike Pearce was named the Canadian University Rowing Association’s coach of the year, while Craig Pond was named co-coach of the year on the women’s side.

Swimming

The UBC swim team had an equally successful weekend in the Odlum Brown Colleges Cup. Again, not a national championship per say, but for a team that tends towards the individual successes and doesn’t revolve around weekly head-to-head match ups, it was high time they got some praise.

On the whole, both the men’s and women’s teams dominated the team results. The men finished on 1,084 points, marginally ahead of their nearest challenger: the Calgary Dinos at 946 points. The women dominated in their category, with 1,069 points compared to the second-best Dinos with 789.

Two UBC swimmers start their race.
Two UBC swimmers start their race. Courtesy Rich Lam/UBC Athletics

Veteran Thunderbird Markus Thormeyer made Canadian history with a time of 1:52.12 in the 200-metre backstroke. His time would beat the 1:52.15 record set by Jake Tapp at the 2010 World Championships. The time moves him to fourth in world in the 200-metre backstroke.

Fellow T-Bird Josiah Binnema won all three butterfly events on the men’s side too, With a time of 1:37.24 in the 4 x 50 metre relay, the men claimed a Canadian record there.