Vernon’s Finlay McPhie finished his career with the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack men’s soccer team by earning a Canada West bronze medal.
The WolfPack downed the University of Fraser Valley Cascades (UFV) of Abbotsford 1-0 in a torrential downpour Saturday at UBC in Vancouver for their second straight third-place finish.
Justin Donaldson (fourth year, midfield, Kamloops) connected in the 24th minute in support of rookie keeper Jackson Gardner. Fraser Valley had won both previous meetings with TRU this season. Vernon’s Scott Kramer, a second-year midfielder, also plays for the WolfPack.
The match started slow but opened up about 14 minutes in when TRU’s James Fraser (third year, forward, Penticton) took a pass, turned and fired just wide of the net. Fraser Valley had a good chance in the 16th minute when Canada West first-team all-star Gurmaan Jhaj had a free kick which created a scoring chance at the side of the TRU net.
Eight minutes later, Donaldson deflected a free kick past keeper David Hicks.
Late in the first half, Fraser Valley got a corner but was unable to connect.
In the 53rd minute, Jan Pirretas Glasmacher (second year, defender, Barcelona, Spain) got the ball at midfield and spotted a streaking Donaldson on the right side. He moved into the box and drilled a low shot which Hicks stopped. The rebound came out to Koffi Nyavor (fourth year, midfield, Coquitlam), who put it over the net.
In the 62nd minute, the WolfPack had another great chance when Khalifa Fanne (fourth year, Tours, France) sent a rocket to the upper right side of the UFV net that Hicks jumped to stop.
Fraser Valley had a glorious chance to level the score in the 67th minute. After Nyavor was assessed a yellow card, David Parfett was awarded a free kick, but the Pack defended it well.
“It feels pretty good,” said McPhie, a fifth-year defender, on taking bronze. “We were kind of out of it at the start of the year. We came back to make playoffs and beat a good team like Alberta. It was disappointing to lose yesterday (semifinal defeat to Trinity Western). It feels pretty good to win another bronze.”
On ending his U SPORTS career, McPhie said, “It would have been nice to make nationals again. But another bronze medal is good. Especially after the start, I had to my TRU career, it is pretty good. After the start (2-6-2 at one point) we had this year, I didn’t think this year would be memorable but it turned out to be a pretty good one.”
McPhie twice suffered heartache during his career, losing his father, Neil, and friend and teammate, Seb Gardner, to cancer.
Said TRU head coach John Antulov, who recruited McPhie: “We said as a group that anything we did in the playoffs was great for our program. We dedicated this game to our graduating players. The guys really stepped up and played great.”
-With files from TRU Athletics