Trinity Western’s Leighton Johnson had three goals and an assist to lead the Spartans men’s soccer team to a 5-1 win over Victoria Friday in their Canada West season-opener.
Johnson, who scored just two goals last year, had an impressive boot from start to finish, as he was in on each of the Langley team final four goals.
After TWU’s Jacob Low (Port Moody) opened the scoring just over a minute into the contest, the Spartans offensive game turned into the Leighton Johnson show.
The fourth-year striker from Calgary went to work in the seventh minute, collecting his first goal on a well-hit ball from the top of the box.
After the Vikes Tarnvir Bhandal struck back for the home side in the 28th minute, Johnson sparked the Spartans response, sending a ball into the box in the 42nd-minute, where an awaiting Cody Fransen (Lynden, Wash.) got his head to it to put TWU up 3-1.
In the second half, Johnson completed the hat-trick, first scoring from the penalty spot in the 58th minute before a 66th minute strike that saw him bury his chance from 20 yards out to the low left corner.
Johnson’s third of the night capped the Spartans most impressive regular season victory in nearly eight years.
The five-goal output is the most the Spartans have scored in a single conference contest since Oct. 24, 2009, when they earned a 5-1 win over Saskatchewan.
“It was a great start for us tonight,” said Spartans coach Mike Shearon.
“Winning 5-1 away at UVIC, there’s not much to complain about. But I think we have a lot of things to still learn and improve on and it was by no means a perfect game. We’re still chasing after putting in good individual and good team performances and we’re going to get back at it tomorrow.”
Prior to Friday, Johnson had scored four goals in the first three years of his Spartans career.
He had two goals in each of his last two seasons.
The hat-trick also marked his first-ever multi-goal game with TWU.
First-year goalkeeper Sebastian Colyn (Langley) earned the start, making six saves to backstop the victory.
Victoria’s netminder Jasdeep Lally made one save on the six shots he faced.
“Leighton Johnson was great tonight,” Shearon said.
“Cody Fransen also had a great game. Elie Gindo (Langley) was huge in the midfield for us and when we made the subs, they all did what they were asked to do. Sebastian Colyn made some big saves in his first U SPORTS game and I’m really proud of him as well.”
The Spartans travel to Vancouver today, for a Saturday night contest against UBC. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.
In nine road games last year, the Spartans scored just 11 goals through their regular season campaign.