The Trinity Western University Spartans blanked the Fraser Valley Cascades 2-0 in Canada West men’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at the MRC Sports Complex in Abbotsford, and, in the process, ensured that the post-season will return to TWU’s Chase Office Field.
With the win the Spartans ensure that the post season will return to TWU’s Chase Office Field for the first time since Trinity Western University hosted the CIS men’s soccer championship in 2009. It will be the first Canada West play-off game at TWU since the Spartans hosted the Canada West Final Four in 2007.
“It was a huge win for us tonight. I’m really proud of the boys. It was a great game and I’m just super happy for everyone,” TWU head coach Mike Shearon said. “The boys stuck to the game plan and we were able to come away with the victory.
“We were shorthanded tonight, and playing a lot of guys who had not started games. Every one of them worked hard and were willing to sacrifice for one and other and that is what this program has always been about and we wanted to make sure that we went out tonight and make everyone proud.”
The Spartans got goals from third year forward Leighton Johnson and second year midfielder Aidan Moore in the final 10 minutes of play to secure the victory, and salvage a weekend split with the Cascades.
UFV had prevailed 4-1 on Friday at TWU’s Chase Office Field.
“Cody Fransen was unreal tonight as our striker,” Shearon said. “He held up the ball for us and had two assists and was really, really good, and Leighton Johnson was fantastic as well.”
The result allowed the Spartans (9-3-2) to leapfrog the UBC Thunderbirds to claim first place in the Pacific Division; the Cascades (5-6-1) are tied for third with the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
The match was a fascinating goalkeeper duel between brother’s David and Andrew Hicks.
David the third year keeper for the Cascades and Andrew the fifth year keeper for the Spartans.
Surrey’s Hicks brothers were playing their first meaningful game against each other – they had shared the field in an exhibition game a couple years ago when David was with the Kwantlen Eagles – and parents Michael and Janet Hicks were watching from the stands.
The Cascades had the first great chance, as speedy forward James Najman ran onto a long pass and poked the ball around an on-rushing Andrew Hicks.
But by the time Najman caught up to the ball again, he was nearing the goal line, and his cross back toward the front of the net was cleared away by a TWU defender.
David Hicks made a spectacular save in the 39th minute to keep the score level, diving to his left to parry a blast from a hard-charging Moore.
In the 81st minute, the Spartans broke the ice. Off a free kick from centre, second year forward Cody Fransen headed the ball down to Johnson at the top of the 18-yard box and he picked the bottom left corner.
In the 85th, with UFV pressing for the equalizer, Fransen and Moore got away on a counterattack. Fransen fed Moore at the top of the six-yard box and he finished into the bottom corner.
Andrew Hicks had to be sharp in the dying minutes.
Off a UFV throw-in, he came charging out to beat Daniel Davidson to the ball deep in the box, and shortly thereafter, he made an acrobatic leap to snare Justin Sekhon’s dangerous cross.
David Hicks acknowledged the rarity of two brothers starting in goal against each other. It was a “special moment” to go head-to-head with his brother, though the end result stung.
“I’ve watched him since I was young, so it’s nice to play against him at the highest level,” he said. “I’ll probably look back on it and have fonder memories, but right now, it’s kind of hard to take in.”
Andrew Hicks earned the victory making one save, while David made four saves in the loss.
Both the Cascades and Spartans hit the road this coming weekend for games in the B.C. Interior. UFV takes on the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Sunday; TWU plays the inverse schedule, facing TRU on Saturday and UBCO on Sunday. All four games are 1 p.m. starts.
Match Notes: TWU had an 11-4 edge in total shots 11-4.
The Spartans had a 3-1 edge in corner kicks 3-1.
TWU with 29 points, and UBC with 27 points, each with two games remaining, have distanced themselves from the rest of the Pacific Division teams.
The remaining squads each have four games remaining.
UFV and TRU each have 16 points, UBC Okanagan has 14 points, while UNBC and Victoria each have 10 points.