The UBC Thunderbirds men’s soccer team have brought the same approach—full of heavy pressure and offensive threat—to every team they played against in the regular season.
Now, they bring it to the Canada West semifinal.
“A lot of the hard work has been done,” said head coach Mike Mosher. “It’s just a little bit of fine-tuning through the week to get us ready.”
The team, which was ranked first in the nation for a wonderful stretch, was undefeated at Thanksgiving, and looked certain to top the table and host the tournament.
But they crumpled slightly after losing away to Victoria on October 16, collecting only 6 from a possible 15 points to round out the year.
“We would have liked to have been at home, but we’re not, and so we can’t worry about that,” Mosher said. “We didn’t get as many wins as we would have liked, too many ties, but at the end of the day, since we started in the middle of August, we’ve lost one game, so that’s certainly a positive to draw upon.”
The playoff will be hosted in Victoria, where the national championship will also be decided. UVic qualified for nationals as hosts, so if they win or tie, UBC could automatically qualify by winning its first round game.
But they would have to get past Trinity Western University. UBC’s matches against the Langley school this year have been cagey affairs, with a 1-1 away draw where the T-Birds took advantage of an own goal and a close 1-0 win at Varsity Field. “They’re a tough, gritty, well-organized team. They’re very strong defensively,” Mosher said, pointing to a strong striker and a strong keeper.
“We’ve certainly got our hands full with this team. That said, we see that we’re a tough team to beat.”
The Thunderbirds have strong offensive power and a relentless drive to maintain possession and pressure when they are focused. They enter this tournament looking to repeat last year’s performance, which saw them win every game in the postseason except for the CIS final.
“We’ve got a pretty battle-savvy group,” he said. “We knew before we started practicing in the middle of August…we had to make it happen this weekend regardless of who or where we were playing.”