September 2 2018, Vancouver- The UBC Thunderbirds welcomed the Trinity Western Spartans to Thunderbird Stadium Sunday afternoon for their home opener of the Canada West soccer season. Coming off a 1-1 draw with the University of the Fraser Valley on friday, The Thunderbirds were determined to find their first win of the season. Neither team had much rest coming into the game, with UBC having played Friday and Trinity Western demolishing Victoria 7-1 on the island just one day ago.
UBC dominated their season opener but missed chances, including a missed penalty from Caleb Clarke cost the ‘Birds three points. For the second consecutive game Jason Roberts got the start in goal for UBC, as he has pretty well cemented his spot as starting keeper for the Blue and Gold.
UBC came out ultra-determined to please the home crowd in the first half, as they spent nearly all of the first 20 minutes on the attack. Their first chance came in only the sixth minute, from a give and go at the top of the box between striker Caleb Clarke and midfielder Sean Einarsson; the final pass was only inches too long for Clarke to run onto before Spartans goalkeeper Sebastien Colyn smothered it for TWU. Over the next 15 minutes the Thunderbirds would get a number of chances, finally finding their first goal at the 16th minute mark. The goal came from a a quick, precise passing play before being fired into the top corner from the edge of the 18-yard box by Zach Verhoeven. Following the goal, The Spartans began their rebounding efforts; a long effort from Dominic Poletto just missed the frame, and a later shot of his skimmed the left post. Throughout the half the T-Birds were strong defensively, not allowing The Spartans to thread the final pass through the defensive line. Caleb Clarke was highly noticeable with his efforts on both sides of the ball;the ex-pro had three tackles in the half, foiling a number of TWU opportunities.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>⚽️ MSOC | <a href=”https://twitter.com/ubcmsoc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ubcmsoc</a> takes the early lead! <a href=”https://twitter.com/ZachVerhoven?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ZachVerhoven</a> with his 1st of the season makes it 1-0 (15') <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBirdsGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#GoBirdsGo</a> <a href=”https://t.co/UZNSl4jh0I”>pic.twitter.com/UZNSl4jh0I</a></p>— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ubctbirds/status/1036364282361835520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 2, 2018</a></blockquote>
Despite scoring two goals in second half action, The Thunderbirds were less attacking after the break. No more did they dominate offensive play like they had in the first, and their attack became more reliant on long balls to Clarke rather than the technical passes they had used in the first half. Neither team was exceptional in the second half, but UBC was able to find a few goals on the counter attack.. The Thunderbirds would double their lead in the 51st minute when Clark’s cross was finished by Einarsson; and they would extend their lead with a goal from Clarke himself in the 81st minute.
Caleb Clarke, formerly of the Whitecaps would get his name on the scoresheet for all three goals in his man of the match performance with two assists and a goal himself. UBC Head Coach Mike Mosher said that Clarke came into this match more determined than ever, since he had so many missed opportunities in friday nights match against UFV.
Of course everyone in the T-Birds camp is pleased with the win, but for Mosher; the clean sheet is the most important part. “We had been saying we wanted a clean sheet for a while now” said the head coach post game, following up those comments by saying “ it was something I was stressing to all the subs, every player as they went on the focus was the clean sheet after we had enough goals to win the game.”
Throughout the match TWU was unable to get through the final line of UBC defense, a fact that frustrated a lot of the TWU attackers. It was yet another strong performance, and playing three at the back it is important for UBC that their defenders dominate in the tackles.
After getting four of a possible six points this weekend, the Thunderbirds will return to classes before they take the pitch next Friday night at home against Thompson Rivers University, and Saturday vs their rivals UBC Okanagan.