The No. 2 Trinity Western women’s soccer team completed its first ever undefeated regular season after playing to a 1-1 draw with No. 5 Calgary Saturday at Chase Office Field.
With the tie, TWU finishes the season at 11-0-3.
While the Spartans have only suffered one loss in each of their previous five regular seasons, this year’s record marks the first time the storied program has avoided a loss altogether. Including their exhibition schedule, TWU is now 14-0-5 overall this year.
“I think it’s a testament to these kids and how hard they have worked,” said TWU coach Graham Roxburgh. “We’ve had a great regular season and we’ve played some very good teams. But, then again, that all gets zeroed out as we head into the playoffs.”
The Spartans Steph Chin gave the home side the lead in the sixth minute after she converted a penalty kick, but the Dinos Mollee Ramsay equalized in the 49th minute.
“It was a really entertaining game,” Roxburgh said.
“It ebbed and flowed and they had a couple of really good chances towards the end. I thought we weren’t really sharp with our finishing, but I was delighted with some of the chances we created. We just need a little bit more intentionality to make the right run or seal the box. Overall, it was two very good teams and they went at it tonight and in some ways nobody had the knock-out punch.”
TWU goalie Christian Oliverio made four saves to earn the tie, including a pair of the highlight-reel variety in the 67th minute and in second half stoppage time. Former Spartan Sophia Traxler stopped six of the seven shots she faced for the Dinos.
Just before the final whistle, Nicole Bolder nearly sent the Spartans into the win column, but her crack from inside the box just sailed over the bar.
“I’m really pleased with some of our decisions in terms of width,” Roxburgh said. “I thought we played well at times and battled well. I was impressed with Calgary’s athleticism and they are dangerous all the time. We had some really good performances from lots of our kids. I thought Nicole Bolder in particular came on in the second half and gave us a different emphasis in our midfield. She was very good in her distribution and finding the seams and finding the right path.”
The tie saw TWU’s regular season unbeaten streak extended to 27 games. However, the result also snapped the Spartans winning streak at eight games.
Calgary, who had long ago secured top spot in the Prairie Division, caps the regular season with a 9-1-4 record. They finish the season having tied three straight games.
The Spartans got the early jump when Chin tallied her Canada West-leading third penalty kick goal of the season.
Seina Kashima was taken down in the box to earn the penalty and Chin remained perfect on the season from the penalty spot.
TWU nearly went ahead by two goals in the 36th minute, but Leanne Verhoeff’s shot from distance hit the crossbar.
Ramsay, who came on as a substitution at halftime, scored her 12th goal of the season early in the second half to even the score line. Ramsay took advantage of a loose ball in the box and buried it past Oliverio from in tight.
Former Spartan Natalie Arnett had a brilliant opportunity to put Calgary ahead in the 67th minute, but a hard-charging Oliverio rushed out to deflect her shot clear of the goal.
Just beyond 90 minutes, Oliverio had to come up big again, stopping Jordan Smith in a similar circumstance in which the TWU netminder charged at the Dinos striker, sliding out to make the stop.
TWU will now prepare to host UBC Okanagan in the opening round of the playoffs this Saturday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at Chase Office Field.
In their only meeting this year, TWU won 3-0 on the road.
The Dinos will open the post-season at home next weekend. However their opponent will be determined after Sunday’s results.
FINAL WHISTLE: The Spartans honoured their six graduating seniors, including Isabella Di Trocchio, Lindsey Pulice, Ally Williamson, Vanessa Wiebe, Krista Gommeringer, and Chin in a pre-game ceremony.
Calgary coach Troye Flannery, who is a TWU alum and a former assistant coach with the Spartans men’s soccer program, was making his first trip to Langley since taking over as the Dinos coach.
There was a strong Calgary connection amongst the Spartans, as TWU has seven players who hail from Calgary.
Arnett and Traxler both joined TWU in 2014 before transferring to Calgary after one year with the Spartans.