It was a long time coming for the Trinity Western University Spartans men’s soccer team — nine years, in fact.
Playing at home in a Canada West home playoff game for the first time since 2007, the Spartans put on quite a show in front of a boisterous crowd as the Spartans cruised to a 3-0 quarter-final win over Mount Royal University (MRU) Saturday at Chase Office Field.
The win over the Cougars marks TWU’s largest margin of victory in a playoff game since a 3-0 Canada West semifinal win over Alberta in 2007.
Elie Gindo scored in the fifth minute and it was a sign of things to come as the Spartans poured in the offence with fellow Langley products Vaggeli Boucas and Mitchell Urzinger scoring to send TWU through to the Canada West Final Four.
The Spartans, who had finished the regular season with a pair of losses followed by a bye week, looked like a team on a mission, outshooting MRU 19-5 and earning full marks for the victory.
Spartans goalkeeper Andrew Hicks made three saves for the clean sheet as TWU held off a Cougars side that was the fourth highest scoring team in Canada West.
“It was a complete performance tonight for us,” said Spartans coach Mike Shearon.
“It was the first time all year we’ve had a complete performance like this. We got the three goals, but most importantly, I’m excited about the shutout. It’s huge to get shutouts in the playoffs. The boys just kept going and we had great performances across the board. Everybody who went on did exactly the job that we asked them to do.
Shearon said the Spartans “love playing here at home.”
“It’s great to have the fan support that we had tonight,” he said.
“The Spartan Faithful was unreal tonight. It was probably one of the best atmospheres all season anywhere in the country. They really pushed us forward and the guys wanted to play for them.”
The Spartans will now travel to Edmonton for the Final Four, where they will play the host Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday.
A win over Alberta in the semifinals would send TWU to both the Canada West gold medal match and earn them a spot in the national championship tournament for the first time since 2009.
That year, TWU hosted the tournament and won the bronze medal.
Gindo opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he took a pass from Jacob Low and whipped a screamer to the bottom left corner.
TWU doubled its lead in the 54th when Boucas received a feed from Vito Poletto in the box and rifled it to the back of the net.
With the game’s momentum distinctly on the Spartans side and the contest turning feisty — MRU finished with five yellow cards and TWU had three — Urzinger slammed the door on any thoughts of a Cougars comeback when he took a brilliant through ball from Leighton Johnson and slotted it past MRU goalkeeper Zielinski.
Zielinski finished with five saves in the loss.