The men’s WolfPack soccer team had a very entertaining season. The team started slowly and were 2-6-2 before a six-game winning streak helped them turn things around.
The team played in the quarterfinals against the Trinity Western University Spartans and lost 3-0 at Thunderbird Stadium on Nov. 2.
Trinity opened the scoring at the five-minute mark, Dominic Poletto scored off a set piece.
Cody Franson then doubled the lead in the 28th minute, he scored after taking advantage of a scramble in the box.
Franson then put the icing on the cake for the Spartans in the 88th minute after he beat the TRU goalkeeper to the ball which he headed into an empty net.
“That first goal really hurt,” said head coach John Antulov to TRU athletics. “We had to fight back a little bit after that. They played a strong team game and got the result in the end.”
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a semifinal, TRU rallied and beat the UFV Cascades 1-0 on Nov. 3 to win the bronze medal.
Justin Donaldson, one of the team’s most consistent performers scored the one and only goal in the match. He scored in the 24th minute of a deflected free kick. TRU led 1-0 heading into the break.
Koffi Nyavor came close to scoring a second goal in the 53rd minute but was unable to keep the ball down.
Overall TRU was the more aggressive team in front of goal and outshot Fraser Valley 14-3.
This victory marked the second straight year that the ’Pack won a bronze medal. It is a good achievement considering the team barely qualified for the playoffs.
“It is always great to get a medal. I am especially happy for our fifth-years,” said Antulov.
The game marked the final appearance for Mitchell Popadynetz, Finlay McPhie, Jason Staiger and Thomas Lantmeeters.
“We had a really tough start this year,” Donaldson said. “Injuries really hit us hard. We were 2-6-2 and had to pick it up. Once everyone was healthy we started to turn it around.”
McPhie, in his last game for TRU, also spoke to TRU athletics.
“It feels pretty good. We were kind of out of it at the start of the year,” McPhie said. “We came back to make the playoffs and beat a good team like Alberta. It feels pretty good to win another bronze.”
This was a positive end to the season for TRU.
The team defended well all season but struggled to find consistency in attack, part of that was due to injuries to various players, most notably Mitchell Popadynetz who missed four games at a key time in the season.
Despite that TRU still managed to win a bronze medal which must be commended given the challenges faced throughout the season.
The program has grown in leaps and bounds these past four years and next year will present another opportunity for further improvement.