TWU soccer: Spartans hanging on to final playoff spot
A weekend split leaves the Trinity Western Spartans men's soccer team clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Spartans doubled up the Saskatchewan Huskies 4-2 on Friday but fell 3-1 to the Albertan Golden Bears the next day.
The results leave the Spartans at 6-4-2 and 20 points, just one ahead of fifth-place Calgary (6-5-1, 19 points) in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in next month's Canada West championships.
Trinity Western faces the last-place Lethbridge Pronghorns (1-10-1, four points) on Saturday before they play in Calgary on the season's final day.
Against Alberta, the Spartans led 1-0 but the Golden Bears opened up the second half with three straight goals.
Spencer Schmidt — with his conference leading seventh goal — put the Spartans ahead 1-0 in the 13th minute but the home side was unable to build on their lead despite several quality chances.
And that would come back to hurt the team as the Golden Bears scored three times in the second half's first 20 minutes.
Trinity Western was thwarted twice by the cross bar and once by the post in the second half.
"We let them hang around and our back line lost the plot a little bit and they ended up scoring three in a row," said Spartans coach Pat Rohla.
"But overall, even when we are down by two goals, we continued to battle and created at least another five chances to score.
"So we learned a brutal lesson tonight, that you have to finish a team when you have them down."
Daniel Lowen made it 3-2 with a goal in the 89th minute.
"Alberta can think that they played well but they stole the milk off the porch plain and simple," Rohla said. "They countered well and got some timely goals."
Both Spartan goalies played in the game, with Andrew Fink stopping both shots he faced in the first half and Andrew Kowan taking over in the second half and allowing three goals.
Against Saskatchewan on Friday night, the Spartans received their biggest offensive output of the season, with four goals.
"It's finally nice to break the duck and get four goals," Rohla said. "I'm happy for the guys, they worked hard for it.
"It's nice to score four goals against Saskatchewan, which hasn't been allowing too many. I think it proves to ourselves that we do have firepower and we can score."
Goran Vitic and Schmidt put the home side ahead 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, with Garrett Peters and Jason Wiens scoring in the 62nd and 83rd minutes, respectively.
Mitchell Rohla set up the first and fourth goals, while Liam McAllister sent a pass which sprung Peters on a breakaway.
The Huskies had goals from Josh Northey in the 61st minute and Jerson Barandica-Hamilton in the 87th minute.
Barandica-Hamilton was also stopped by Fink on a penalty kick attempt in the 56th minute. Fink finished with five saves.