After a rough first half with two major injuries, the UBC Thunderbirds men's soccer team roared back to score two goals against the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies to triumphantly head to the Canada West final against the Calgary Dinos.
The win also guarantees the T-Birds a spot in the U Sports National Championships next week in Montréal.
Luck wasn’t on the side of the T-Birds in the first half. UBC forward Mackenzie Cole was injured in the 13th minute after contesting the ball in the Huskies' box. UBC defender Daniel Kaiser was the next to be hurt by Saskatchewan’s tough defense, coming off the field in the 34th minute with a shoulder injury. Despite these setbacks, the T-Birds still dominated the Huskies, but the first half ended goalless.
Patience has always been the key to victory for the T-Birds, and the game against the Huskies was no exception. In the 54th minute, Cole’s substitute, Kerman Pannu, scored the first goal after receiving star wingback Jordan Haynes’s signature long ball.
In the 82nd minute, a breakthrough from speedy winger Victory Shumbusho created a messy situation in Saskatchewan’s end of the field. Amidst the confusion, midfielder Sean Einarsson passed the ball to midfielder Thomas Gardner, who then scored his first goal of the post-season from a long shot outside the penalty box. The game ended 2–0 for the T-Birds.
“We’ve got a hugely deep team,” remarked head coach Mike Mosher about UBC’s injury issues. “I’ve got full confidence for the players who came into the game that we can still play well and play the game. If we gotta make changes, we make changes. That’s okay.”
“You’re always looking for players with different qualities, and [playing it long] is something that he came to this team,” Mosher added on Jordan Haynes. “He’s got a terrific left foot. He passes the ball short and long really well with that left foot.”
The T-Birds face the Calgary Dinos 7 p.m tonight at the Thunderbird Stadium for the Canada West title.