The men’s WolfPack soccer team have had a frustrating season.
They have played well in large parts but after having a slow start to the season, have been unable to convert their chances of qualifying for the playoffs.
To add to their problems, key playmaker Mitch Popadynetz has been injured and has missed four straight games this season.
This past weekend they hosted the UNBC Timberwolves in two entertaining games that featured ten goals and two penalties.
In the first game played on Oct. 6, TRU beat UNBC 3-1. This game marked the return of Mitchell Popadynetz who made his presence felt with an assist for James Fraser 76 seconds into the contest.
The ’Pack then doubled their lead fourteen minutes in as the always reliable Justin Donaldson scored a second.
The Timberwolves held tough and despite TRU being in control of the game, they equalized in the thirty-sixth minute. Conrad Rowlands scored a header of a set-piece.
The second half wasn’t lacking in drama as UNBC had a penalty in the seventy-ninth minute which Coby Gysbers failed to convert. A costly error.
The penalty could have easily changed the final result, but it was not to be for UNBC and a disaster was avoided for TRU.
Going into the break TRU led the contest 2-1. TRU put the contest to bed 89 minutes into the game, Koffi Nyavor was the goal scorer.
TRU was the more aggressive team in front of goal registering 23 shots to UNBC’s seven.
“Definitely a win that we needed,” John Antulov told TRU athletics, “Our confidence was a little fragile. Even in the second half, it was a little hectic. The guys battled hard and ended up getting the result.”
The following game was even more dramatic, which may be hard to believe given the previous game; TRU secured a 3-3 draw with UNBC at hillside stadium on Oct. 7.
Early in the game, Khalifa Fanne had a chance to open the scoring, but his shot went wide of the left post of the UNBC goal.
UNBC like TRU in the first game, took the lead as Abou Cisse scored a set-piece in the thirtieth minute.
Lantmeeters then equalized for the ’Pack in the thirty-sixth minute, he was assisted by French-midfielder Khalifa Fanne and shot from 25 yards out straight into the net.
The score going into the break was 1-1.
Finlay McPhie then scored a header of a set-piece to put TRU ahead 2-1. The lead was well deserved, TRU had dominated the contest for most of the second half up to that point.
Unlike the previous day when UNBC failed to convert, Gysbers made no mistake and sent the keeper the wrong way.
The game was tied at 2-2 and at that point it appeared that was how it would end but, little did the crowd in attendance know what was in store.
Justin Donaldson scored a good goal off of a counter attack, James Fraser started the attack with a good pass and Donaldson used his pace to beat the right fullback and hit a thunderous shot that the keeper couldn’t stop.
At that point, it seemed TRU had stolen a victory but UNBC struck back at death as Emmanuel Drame equalized of a loose ball from the throw-in.
“A little disappointed we let the game slip, two goals in injury time is not something we are looking at doing,” said a downbeat Antulov.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the playoffs, Antulov was pleased with the overall performance from his team.
“We didn’t get those early results, in tight games like this little things can happen and not getting results early cost us,” he said.
Antulov maintained a positive attitude as he stated that the team will look to continue playing well and hopefully give the fifth-years in the squad something to cheer about in their final season at TRU.