Despite a wide edge in total shots and a distinct advantage in possession, the Trinity Western University men's soccer team was held to a 1-1 draw with visiting Calgary Saturday at Rogers Field.
The Spartans were the better team for much of the contest but were unable to collect all three points against a feisty Calgary side that forced Trinity Western to battle back from a one-goal deficit just to earn the tie.
After something of a lackluster opening 45 minutes, Calgary's Robin Whittaker opened the scoring in the 51st minute.
The Dinos barely had time to celebrate as Trinity Western evened the score line a minute later when rookie Cameron Parkes scored what would turn out to be the final goal of the match.
Although the Spartans outshot Calgary 23-8 and had 10 corner kicks to the Dinos' one, it was valiant defensive effort from Calgary, combined with a few Trinity Western offensive miscues, that sent both teams home with a single point.
The Spartans are now 1-0-1 on the season while Calgary, earning its first point of the new season, is 0-1-1.
"I think in the first half we were poor but I think in the second half the game tilted our way," Spartans' coach Pat Rohla said. "But we need to bury our chances. In the second half I thought we were good value but we missed our chances. I'm not disappointed with our performance, particularly in the second half, but I'm disappointed in the result. It's one that got away."
Trinity Western opened the game on the offensive and looked dangerous in the very early stages but was unable to put anything on the scoreboard to show for its efforts. The Spartans'Jarvis Ambaka had the best chance early when, in the sixth minute, he whipped a shot just wide from inside the box on a point blank attempt.
Ambaka had another quality chance in the 37th minute when he won a battle for the ball in the box, turned around and fired a shot but the attempt went high and wide.
Beyond those two chances, it was largely a slow-moving ping pong match played in the middle of the park.
After going into halftime scoreless, both teams came out in the second half with much more pace and energy.
And the lone halftime substitution for either team proved to be a savvy move as Calgary's Whittaker, after just five minutes of play, put the Dinos on the board. The first midfielder took the ball at his feet just beyond 20 yards out and ripped a screamer that beat Spartans goalkeeper Evan Lowther low to the left post.
However, Trinity Western, suddenly filled with urgency, wasted little time in getting back into the game. In the 52nd minute first-year midfielder Parkes, positioned inside the box, received a pass from Andrew Phillips off the right flank and quickly converted his chance inside the near post for his first Canada West goal as Spartan.
From there, both teams pushed for the go-ahead markers but were ultimately unsuccessful.
The best chance for Trinity Western came in stoppage time when Spencer Schmidt was alone in front of the goal from eight yards out but his header attempt carried wide right.
Calgary's Jordan Unreiner made four saves on five shots while Lowther made three saves on four shots.
Spartans 2, Lethbridge 0
It wasn't exactly a wall-worthy oil painting, but the Spartans did what they had to do to grind out a 2-0 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns in their season-opener last Friday at Rogers Field.
The Spartans' Jason Wiens opened the scoring in the 17th minute, Brayden Gant doubled their lead in the 35th minute and after that, the Spartans simply shut the Pronghorns down the rest of the way.
Trinity Western finished the game with 13 total shots to Lethbridge's one.
"I would have liked to have a couple of more goals," Rohla said. "They weren't really in the game in terms of the play. I just don't think we executed what we did in practice this week. I think we stepped off a little bit and I think that was far beneath what we are capable of.
"On the bright side, we limited their play. They didn't get any shots of any note. A couple of our rookies stepped up and played well. Overall, it's a good performance for the league but not what we've been used to in pre-season."
Notes - The Spartans Andre Costa returned to Trinity Western's lineup after missing all of last year due to injury. He entered the game late and played five minutes.
The Spartans are in action this weekend when they host Victoria Friday (Sept. 14) at 6 p.m. and Fraser Valley Saturday (Sept. 15) at 7 p.m.