The Thompson Rivers WolfPack exploded for four goals in a 12-minute span in the second half to rally past the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 4-2 in Canada West men’s soccer action on Saturday.
The host Cascades took an early lead on Gurmaan Jhaj’s goal in the 16th minute and kept the WolfPack at bay into the second half. But Ryan Glanville’s goal in the 63rd minute opened the floodgates – Koffi Nyavor, Finlay McPhie and Colton Walker would also score for the visitors, with UFV’s Tammer Byrne also squeezing in a goal during that wild 12-minute stretch.
The result moved the WolfPack into a three-way tie with the TWU Spartans and UNBC Timberwolves for second place in the Pacific Division at 2-1-3. The Cascades (1-2-1) sit in fifth.
“They’re a good team,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said of the WolfPack, who will host the U SPORTS national championships later this fall. “John (Antulov, TRU head coach) has done a good job assembling a good group of guys, and you could tell they were hungry and how much it meant to them.
“We’ve got to grow up very quickly in this league, and realize we have to show up for 90 minutes every single week. Because you play good teams and if you just show up for 45 minutes here, 15 minutes there, you get punished.”
Jhaj put the Cascades ahead early on a terrific individual effort, juking his way past a defender at the left edge of the penalty area and unleashing a low shot that went in off the far post.
UFV nursed that one-goal lead into halftime – the WolfPack threatened on set pieces, but the Cascades were able to clear the ball out of harm’s way.
TRU broke through in the 63rd minute – Mitchell Popadynetz wove his way past a couple of defenders before sending a through ball to Glanville, who poked it past on-rushing UFV keeper David Hicks. Nyavor made it 2-1 in the 68th, making good from close range off a back-heel feed from Glanville.
The Cascades equalized less than two minutes after that, as Byrne rose to nod home Jhaj’s free kick. But the goal did little to shift the momentum – TRU quickly responded with a set-piece goal of their own, with McPhie getting on the end of Popadynetz’s service.
McPhie then turned provider, sending Walker in for the finish to round out the scoring.
Lowndes was particularly disappointed with his team’s struggles defending set pieces.
“Any time you concede off a set piece it isn’t nice, but you should never concede from two in a game, and we did,” he said. “And then I think our naiveté and how young we are showed. We got it back to 2-2, but instead of steadying the ship for 10-15 minutes, we had some bad mistakes.”
The Cascades are back in action at home next weekend, hosting the Alberta Golden Bears on Friday and the Calgary Dinos on Saturday. Both games kick off at 6 p.m. at MRC Sports Complex.