Print Edition: September 18, 2013
On September 8, the men’s soccer team traveled to Point Grey to take on the mightiest of opponents, the dreaded UBC Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds entered the game as the top-ranked CIS team in the country, having gone 27 games without a single loss. In contrast, the Cascades were barely a blip on the national radar last year with a 5-5-4 season. It was the perfect scenario for fans wanting an underdog story.
Early in the game the incredibly potent Thunderbird offence swarmed the Cascades net, but the strong defence anchored by keeper Mark Village held firm, not giving the Thunderbirds offence an inch. The Cascades had lost an earlier weekend match against the Trinity Western Spartans and were eager to take an aggressive attitude into the game against the T-birds.
In many ways the match was historic. The UBC men had not lost a game since November 2011. To put things in perspective, the last time the Thunderbirds lost a game, the United States was still actively involved in the Iraq war and Kim Jong-il was still alive and doing his thing. The dominance of the UBC squad over the past two years was rewarded with top national ranking and, in 2012, a CIS national title. Consequently, it was easy to assume the Cascades would fall for the 15th consecutive time to their Point Grey opponents.
As the game progressed the Cascades did everything they could to deter the UBC attack. While it was only thanks to the timely presence of a few crossbars that the game remained scoreless, it was an effort by the men’s team that many in attendance called the best in their eight-year history.
Apart from Village, the Cascades were anchored by their man of the match Connor MacMillan, who was credited with an astounding 30 tackles in the first half alone. Not only was MacMillan key in taking the ball from UBC players, but he also stood strong and blocked many other shots that the Thunderbirds tried to send past Village.
However it wasn’t until late in the second half with only three minutes left that MacMillan would make his biggest mark on the game. The Cascades had been applying constant pressure on Thunderbirds keeper Ante Boskovic when the ball somehow jetted out towards MacMillan who fired a line drive shot towards the left side of the net. By the time Boskovic saw it, it was too late.
The UFV players, no doubt sensing the historic nature of the goal, celebrated in front of the Thunderbirds net. With dwindling time on the clock, the Cascade men were cautious and deliberate with their play, protecting the ball and shutting down their offence. Coach Alan Errington was just as nervous as his players, clearly aware of what a victory such as this would mean for his squad.
As the final whistle blew the Cascade men realized what they had just accomplished, achieving what no team had done in almost two years. The players rejoiced and congratulated one another, pure joy on the faces of men who, just for that tiny sliver of a moment, could feel and act like kids again. In the days following the game, the Cascade men were able to observe clear evidence of their victory as UBC fell from number one in the rankings to number four.
Coach Errington had some comments about the game in an interview a couple of days later. “On the day we were the better team,” he said. When questioned about the preparation for the UBC match he offered “I’m not asking the players to do anything they’re not capable of. What we do is we go out and play and enjoy the way we do it – we don’t want to defend the whole time.” Coach Errington continued, “[We] don’t try and score, that’s not the object of the game, [we] just play and defend and wait for the time. The opportunities will come.”