Tim­ber­wolves tie Cas­cades in home de­but

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

The new-look UNBC Tim­ber­wolves made their 2019 sea­son home de­but Fri­day night at Ma­sich Sta­dium and if they per­form the rest of the sea­son like they did in a highly en­ter­tain­ing 1-1 tie with the Fraser Val­ley Cas­cades, soccer fans in Prince Ge­orge are in for a treat.

These T-wolves are fast, and as they showed the Cas­cades they like to own the ball, and they have the type of shoot­ers that can strike fear into op­pos­ing goal­tenders.

With a healthy crowd watch­ing, they cer­tainly put the pres­sure on Cas­cades ‘keeper Ethan Dug­gan, a first-year player from North Van­cou­ver, who held his team in the game when the T-wolves came out fir­ing in a dom­i­nant first half.

Par­man Minhas for the Cas­cades, and Abou Cisse, for the T-wolves, ac­counted for the scor­ing.

The tie was the first of the U Sports Canada West men’s soccer sea­son for both teams. The T-wolves are now 1-1-1, while the Cas­cades’ record stands at 0-2-1.

Trail­ing 1-0 with 75 min­utes gone, the T-wolves fi­nally con­verted on one of their many chances. Reid Adams put on a burst of speed to get the ball deep on an im­pres­sive rush and the ball came out to Cisse and from 25 yards out he launched a rocket high into the net for the ty­ing goal.

“In the first half I was re­ally ner­vous and when I got the ball I just wanted to put it in the back of the net and it didn’t end up like that,” said Cisse, who shot just wide in the open­ing minute.

“In he sec­ond half Steve (coach Si­mon­son) wanted us to be more ruth­less and that kind of paid off. Reid gave me the ball and I was go­ing to shoot it with my left foot but it was pretty tight and I couldn’t do it, so I just brought it to my right foot and shot it.”

Cisse, 20, has been in Prince Ge­orge five years since mov­ing to Canada from Mali. The Duchess Park sec­ondary school grad­u­ate had one goal last year in his rookie sea­son. Press­ing for the go-ahead goal, the Cas­cades hit the goal post twice with less than 15 min­utes to play. Ra­jan Bains put one off the iron on a penalty kick and about a minute later Trevor Zanatta’s foot-flick roller was stopped by the post.

The T-wolves fell be­hind 1-0 three min­utes in but played well enough to get out of the first half with a lead. On the shot that counted, Minhas took a feed from Brady Weir just out­side the box and fired off a low shot that found a seam through a crowd in front of UNBC goalie Rob Goodey.

The T-wolves went right back to the at­tack after that but goalie Dug­gan was ready for them. Owen Ste­wart prob­a­bly thought he had his first goal of the sea­son when he launched a bul­let from close range but Dug­gan, the Cas­cades, first-year ‘keeper leaped up to get his fin­ger­tips on the shot and de­flect it away. Not long after that, Michael Hen­man un­leashed a bi­cy­cle kick that was saved by Dug­gan.

“It was dif­fi­cult for sure, they were pound­ing lots of shots and crosses in and luck­ily I was able to keep them out,” said the 18-year-old Dug­gan.

“It felt good to be out there.” Rookie UNBC mid­fielder Ken­sho Ando, an im­port from Ja­pan, came close 35 min­utes in with a dan­ger­ous de­flec­tion that sailed into the hands of Dug­gan. He and mid­fielder Hus­sein ‘Suka’ Be­hery, who trans­ferred to UNBC from Van­cou­ver Is­land Univer­sity, set the tone with their ball han­dling skills and that led to qual­ity chances.

“The in­ten­sity was good and I loved the at­ten­dance (about 300 spec­ta­tors were watch­ing), I’m not used to that to be hon­est,” said Be­hery, a 23-year-old na­tive of Egypt. “That’s more than we ever had at VIU in a league game.

“I thought we worked re­ally hard. Our fi­nal prod­uct should have been bet­ter from all of us, but it’s a new team and lots of new play­ers. I thought we were the bet­ter team and we de­served to win there. Steve wants us to be an at­tack­ing team and to con­trol the game pos­ses­sion-wise and I think we did that very well today, we just need to stop con­ced­ing (early goals).”

Hen­man was prob­a­bly the most snakebit­ten T-wolf shooter, miss­ing high on a cou­ple of golden op­por­tu­ni­ties later in the half.

Out­shot 12-6 in the open­ing half, the Cas­cades had a chance to add to their lead a few min­utes be­fore the in­ter­mis­sion when their most fear­some shooter, Gur­maan Jhaj, got free on a break­away. But Jahj, com­ing off a 13-goal con­fer­ence first-team all-star sea­son, elected to pass rather than shoot and the ball rolled harm­lessly to the side­line.

“Their goal­keeper made some key saves and we also had some chances that we missed,” said Si­mon­son. “If we bury the chances we could have scored four or five today.”

The young UNBC back line did a great job bot­tling up the Cas­cades and two of those rookie de­fend­ers, Demian Dron and Luke Br­bot, were sport­ing UNBC colours on a home field for the first time.

“You saw their in­ex­pe­ri­ence early in but Jonah (Smith) was back there try­ing to set­tle them down and Luke and Demian, as the game went on, just got more solid,” said Si­mon­son. “They’re two lo­cal boys out of high school in their first year and they’re go­ing to be great.”

The same teams meet again Sun­day at 1 p.m. at Ma­sich. The T-wolves got some bad news this week when an MRI con­firmed fourth-year mid­fielder James Stephens is out for the sea­son after suf­fer­ing lig­a­ment dam­age when he made a block seven min­utes into the T-wolves’ open­ing game a week ago Fri­day in Kelowna. He joins thirdyear mid­fielder Cody Gyspers (an­kle in­jury) on the side­lines for the rest of the sea­son.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

UNBC Tim­ber­wolves for­ward Hus­sein Be­hery does a fancy lit­tle move to get the ball by UFV Cas­cades de­fender Trevor Zanatta on Fri­day evening at Ma­sich Place Sta­dium dur­ing the men’s soccer team’s home opener.

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