KAMLOOPS — The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack enter the USPORTS Canada West men’s soccer play-in match Saturday in Edmonton on a major high.
The WolfPack surprised the No. 1-nationally ranked UBC Thunderbirds 1-0 Sunday at Hillside Stadium. The T-Birds were unbeaten in 13 starts.
Joshua Banton (second-year, defender, Leigh-on-sea, England) scored when he converted a free kick from former Thunderbird and Canada West MVP Mitch Popadynetz in extra time. Jackson Gardner got the clean sheet, his second of the season.
Banton’s goal was his third of the year and second in three matches. Both of them were key goals as the WolfPack enter the Canada West post-season winners of four of their last five matches. They are also unbeaten in six matches. Popadynetz’s assist was his ninth of the year.
The WolfPack finished fourth in the Pacific Division at 6-6-3. The T-Birds were first at 13-1-2.
That was good enough for second most in the Canada West during the regular season.
Said TRU head coach John Antulov: “All I can say is amazing. The guys put in such a solid effort today. It was absolutely fantastic. It came down to the point about not concentrating on the opponent. The focus was on trying to win the game.”
The WolfPack honoured their graduating players; Popadynetz (Nelson), Finlay McPhie (Vernon), Thomas Lantmeeters (Genk, Belgium) and Jason Staiger (Agassiz) at the match. All four were the TRU Bookstore/McDonalds ‘Leader of the Pack’ players of the match.
The Pack battle the Alberta Golden Bears (12-0-2 atop the Prairie Division) in the Canada West play-in match Saturday afternoon. The winner advances to the Canada West final four.
The Bears beat the WolfPack 1-0 when they met in the regular season Sept. 21 at Hillside Stadium. The Pack beat Alberta in the Canada West playoffs last year to claim the bronze medal.