VANCOUVER – For the second year in a row, the Trinity Western men's soccer team had to settle for a silver medal in the Canada West final, as the Spartans lost 2-0 to host UBC Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium.
The T-Birds Victory Shumbusho scored in the fourth minute and then UBC's Connor Guilherme doubled the home side's team with a 30th-minute marker.
The Spartans pushed forward in the second half, but despite a few in-close chances and a couple of near-misses off the head of Cody Fransen (Lynden, Wash.), TWU was unable to find the scoreboard.
TWU goalie Sebastian Colyn (Langley, B.C.) made three saves in the loss.
The Spartans will now prepare to play in the U SPORTS Championship back at UBC, starting Thursday when they will play OUA champion York. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. (PT).
TWU's appearance in the national tournament is its first since hosting the event in 2009.
The T-Birds started on the front foot with a dangerous chance created just two minutes in when Shumbusho sent in a low hard cross into the Spartans box that Kristian Yli-Hietanen got his foot to at the same time as a diving Colyn, who was also able to swallow up the ball.
The same T-Birds duo joined forces just a minute later on the opening goal of the game as Yli-Hietanen sent a lovely through ball down the right channel for Shumbusho to run onto into the Spartans box where he calmly placed the ball into the opposite left corner from 15 yards out to take a 1-0 advantage in the third minute.
The 'Birds just missed adding to their lead in the 19th minute when midfielder Nick Fussell got his head on the end of a cross and sent it just over the Spartans crossbar.
In the 26th minute, TWU took it into T-Birds territory and generated its best chance to that point in the match as a cross was sent in from the right flank but directed six yards wide of the left post by Fransen.
Four minutes later the hosts added to their lead on a scramble deep in the Spartans box after an initial cross was sent in the ball was punched upwards by TWU keeper Colyn and then headed multiple times from four yards out and eventually headed in by UBC center back and captain Connor Guilherme.
Controversially, the referee ruled the ball crossed the goal line before being cleared by yet another header, giving the T-Birds a 2-0 lead in the 30th minute.
The first half closed out with two good chances on goal from the Spartans in the 32nd minute when midfielder Joel Waterman (Aldergrove, B.C.) redirected a feed out of mid-air that cruised over the 'Birds crossbar. Just before the halftime whistle midfielder, TWU's Aidan Moore (Langley, B.C.) found himself with a great opportunity connecting on a volley from 14 yards out but he sent it well over the bar.
Coming out of halftime and trailing 2-0, it was the Spartans who carried a majority of the play for the first 15 minutes and it led to a dangerous free kick from forward Domenic Poletto (Calgary), who sent a searing shot just over the bar.
The teams traded chances in the 68th minute with substitute Caleb Clarke, who replaced Yli-Hietanen in the 57th minute, got onto a ball in the left channel in TWU territory before putting a left footed attempt over the bar. The Spartans responded with a cross from the right wing that Fransen met with his head and pushed just over the UBC crossbar.
In the dying minutes the Spartans generated a couple dangerous chances from crosses across the T-Bird goal mouth but were denied by 'Birds defenders at each opportunity, as the hosts secured the 2-0 victory to defend their Canada West championship title.
The Spartans who finished second in the Pacific Division this season behind the T-Birds will join UBC as two of eight teams that will be competing for the men's national soccer championship beginning Thursday at the Point Grey campus.
Head Coach Mike Shearon
"I thought we played well at the beginning and then we gave up the goal and I thought that was poor on our part but well-taken by them. That second (goal) kind of hindered us a bit and our belief went away a bit. I thought in the second half we played a lot better and played the type of football we wanted to play.
"We'll always get our chances. I'm not worried about getting chances. It's just a matter of trying to make sure we take them. Sometimes they go and sometimes they don't and that's the way soccer goes.
"This was a great opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country today. What better way to prepare for nationals than this. We learned a lot of stuff today and we're going to be able to carry on."
• Last year, the Spartans also lost to UBC in the Canada West gold medal match, falling 3-2 in overtime.
• TWU has won CW medals in all three years since Mike Shearon took over as head coach, winning bronze in 2016 before back-to-back silver medals.
• The Spartans have lost all three games against UBC this year, including 3-0 and 3-2 losses in the regular season.
TWU will play York in the U SPORTS Quarter-Finals Thursday at 11 a.m. (PT) at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium. The winner will advance to play in the semifinals Friday at 4 p.m. (PT) against the winner of the quarter-final match between the University of Montreal and the University of New Brunswick.