Weekend rundown: Soccer supremacy, series sweeps and road trip woes

It has been an eventful month for Thunderbirds sports, and it ends on an eventful last weekend as September wraps up. The UBC soccer teams are rounding into powerhouses, the football season continues to ramble on and the hockey season is just getting underway.

With midterms upcoming and so many sports to keep track of, it’s hard to catch everything that UBC’s teams are up to. Here are five things you may have missed from your Thunderbirds this past weekend:

Men’s soccer still division’s best

UBC’s men’s soccer team carried their unbeaten record into a pair of weekend games against provincial rival the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). UBC would draw a frustrating game on Friday night, 1-1, and would take out their frustrations in a 7-0 blowout victory on Sunday afternoon to remain undefeated at a record of 8-0-2 — comfortably the Canada West Pacific Division’s best team.

Friday night’s game would see UBC’s attack generate 26 shots, only 9 of which made it on target. After surrendering a goal late in the first half, the T-Birds would play from behind for most of the match. Caleb Clarke, who was named both U Sports male athlete of the week and “guy who The Ubyssey always raves about” this month, would be ejected late in the game with his team still behind. Minutes later, Victory Shumbusho would find the net on a tapped-in corner kick, securing the draw for UBC.

The Thunderbirds would storm the pitch on Sunday, hungry for a second chance at beating the middling UNBC team — they would do so handily. The high-scoring effort included six goals in the first half alone. Kristian Yli-Hietanen would find the net four times on five shots.

Women’s soccer earn fourth-straight shutout

Coming off their first double-header victory last weekend, in which they outscored their opponents 5-0, the UBC women’s soccer team looked to build on some promising momentum. In this weekend’s games, they posted a pair of impressive victories, including a tight 1-0 win over MacEwan and a 7-0 trouncing of UNBC.

Friday’s victory over UNBC was a dominant performance as the team assembled a comprehensive attack in front of the Prince George crowd, brutalizing the opponent with 32 shots throughout the game. The forward trio of Amelia Crawford, Alyssa Hunt and Michelle Jang would pick up nine point between them, including Crawford’s pair of goals to open the scoring and a third to complete the hattrick in the 78th minute.

The squad would return to action on Sunday in Edmonton to face the MacEwan Griffins — a match up that would prove to be far more competitive. UBC’s veteran defender Emma Kallner scored her first of the season as the lone tally, and the Thunderbirds would win a close one to extend their win streak to four.

Football falls to bottom of Canada West

The UBC football team picked up their fourth straight loss at the hands of the otherwise winless Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night by a score of 21-26. It was a game that saw a number of lead-changes and ended with the ball in the ’Birds’ hands with a winning opportunity — as was the case in the dying minutes of last week’s Homecoming heartbreak. But, once again, they failed to seal the deal.

For the fifth straight game, the T-Birds offense was outgunned and they would give up more than 400 yards of offense to the Bears, as they have to every opponent so far this season. Veteran quarterback Michael O’Connor would post 323 passing yards and 2 touchdowns through the air — but would finish the game completing just 60 per cent of his passes.

Following a lock-down game against the Dinos where UBC’s defensive backfield was able to hamper Calgary’s vertical game, the Bears punished the Thunderbirds on the ground. Alberta would average over 6 yards per carry for 167 yards, with one rushing touchdown.

Season-opening sweep for men’s hockey

The T-Bird’s men’s hockey team stormed into their Canada West season with a pair of resounding wins over the Lethbridge Pronghorns — 6-4 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday.

Despite a number of key departures in the off-season, including both long-time captain Wes Vannieuwenhuizen and starting goaltender Matt Hewitt, third-year coach Sven Butenschon had his team executing well. The ’Birds went 5-for-10 on the powerplay throughout the weekend and punished the Pronghorns’ goaltenders, peppering the net with more than 80 shots between the two games.

UBC’s offense had contributions throughout the lineup, but Carter Popoff had a particularly strong start to his season, scoring three powerplay goals — including the eventual game winners in both matches.

First 2018/19 win for women’s field hockey

UBC’s women’s field hockey team would capture their first victory of the season on Saturday — the first of head coach Poonam Sandhu’s young career. The 3-0 victory would be one of a pair of games against the Calgary Dinos, the other of which would end in a 2-2 draw.

After a scoreless first half in their first game, UBC’s offense started to click. Sara Goodman would open the scoring on a penalty corner in the 38th minute, which would be followed by a pair of insurance goals from fourth-year Niki Best to secure a comfortable victory. The goaltending tandem of Gabby Switzer and reigning Canada West Player of the Year Rowan Harris would secure the shutout victory.

In Sunday’s game, the teams would trade goals and ultimately end knotted up at two. The Thunderbirds would generate plenty of pressure, but would be unable to put the Dinos away. UBC will walk away from this weekend’s double header with a 1-0-3 record. The tie would mark the end of a losing streak for Calgary that dates back six years to a tie against Victoria in October of 2012 — a fact that will make the ’Birds’ third draw of the season no more palatable, as they fall two points out of first place in the Canada West standings.

Margaret Pham switches the ball across the field.
Margaret Pham switches the ball across the field. David Moll/Courtesy University of Calgary