Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Golden Bears maul UNBC in Canada West playoff

T-wolves' best-ever men's soccer season ends in crushing 5-0 defeat in Edmonton
The UNBC Timberwolves men;s soccer season ended Saturday in a 5-0 quarterfinal playoff loss to the Alberta Golden Bears.

The Alberta Golden Bears attacked early and often and the UNBC Timberwolves were unable to stop the bleeding.

Four unanswered goals in the first half gave the host Golden Bears a lead that gutted the visitors from Prince George and their dreams of advancing to the semifinal round of the U SPORTS Canada West men’s soccer playoffs were crushed in a 5-0 loss Saturday afternoon in Edmonton.

Davis Chung collected a pass into the box and scored on UNBC goalie Daniel Zadravec in the fourth minute. Ten minutes later Alberta rookie Habib Assem cashed in an odd-man rush to make it 2-0 with his first of two goals. The third goal came off a questionable hand-ball call on Abou Cisse and the ensuing free kick cross in the 22nd minute from Alberta’s David Chung found a sliding Rilind Idrizi at the far post to increase the gap to 3-0. Ibrahim Jetishi beat Zadravec just before halftime.

“We were ready for what we thought they were going to bring but they scored on in the first (four) minutes and I think that rattled us and gave them confidence,” said T-wolves head coach Steve Simonson. “Then they whipped up two more, very similar, we just didn’t defend in our box for some reason and by then it was too late.

“In the second half we took it to ‘em and outshot the 10-2 and did everything right , but they scored the fifth one and that just killed it. The fourth one before half was a killer as well. We just didn’t match them in the first 20 minutes.”

Led by the record-setting scoring antics of striker Michael Henman, whose 19 goals tied the league mark for most goals by an individual in a season. The Bears kept Henman in close check throughout the game but he still managed two shots on goal. In the second half he missed the target on two quality chances. The shots-on-goal count actually favoured UNBC 8-7.

“In the first half we didn’t really find him and he started dropping a bit deeper and in the second half he ad a couple really big chances but he didn’t find a way into the back of the net,” said Simonson. “They were defending fully at that time and so they were harder to break down, obviously. We just didn’t give Michael a chance that we normally do. Normally we create as a group and find him in the 18 (-yard box) but we didn’t do that.”

Simonson rested several of his top players who were at risk of yellow-card suspensions for most of the final regular season game at Fraser Valley and that 2-0 loss Oct. 23 dropped UNBC into third place. It was the difference between hosting the quarterfinal at Masich Place Stadium and having to travel to face Alberta on the road.

“It’s a tough way to go but I think that once the sting wears off it’s a great season for us and we’re proud of what we accomplished,” said Simonson. “The last couple games were tough for us, but to finish third overall, a sliver away from  a second-place finish, is fantastic.”

the T-wolves posted their best record (8-5-3) since joining Canada West in 2012, finishing third in the Pacific Division, only a few percentage points behind second-place Thompson Rivers.

The strong regular season produced an unprecedented five league all-star awards for the UNBC men. Henman made the Canada West first team, Gysbers, Ando and Zadravec were selected to the second team and centreback Hagon Kim made the all-rookie team.

The T-wolves will lose their top defender, Canada West second-team all-star Cody Gysbers, and could face the loss of five other starters who are graduating, including midfielders Cisse, Anthony Preston, Kensho Ando and defenders Julian Daduica and Mitch Linley. Preston, who finished tied with teammate Koby Greaves for the league lead in assists with five, could return for his final season of eligibility if his medical school entry is with the Northern Medical Program at UNBC.  Linley is moving on to masters studies in biochemistry and there’s a chance he could come back to the T-wolves in 2023.

The T-wolves know their memorable 2022 season will be a tough act to follow.

“It’s always going to be difficult because we pretty much rely on people coming in from outside,” said Simonson. “We take as many local players as we can but if they’re not at the level to play at the top level  of Canada West we have to go outside and players have choices where they go. There’s a cost to go to school and people have to make a contribution financially to go away for school and that’s why it’s so hard to maybe get kids from Vancouver, where they have multiple choices in Vancouver to go to school.

“To have the season we had and know that we’re moving forward as a program does make it more appealing to people. It’s a slow build. The hardest thing for a school like ours will be to maintain a year like this year. It’s not an overnight process.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks