Sydney, NS – The UBC Thunderbirds nipped the STFX X-Men 2-1 in the second quarterfinal matchup of the 2023 U SPORTS men's soccer championships on Thursday afternoon.
Both teams came out aggressive and fast in the opening of the game. Charlie Waters created a good scoring change for the X-Men early on as he had a nice pass through to U SPORTS all-rookie Isaac VanWychen but his low shot went wide of the UBC net.
The Thunderbirds had a great scoring chance in the 20th minute but their header off a corner kick went over the crossbar of the STFX net. They kept the pressure on and Sam Diltz made several key saves in the X net to keep his squad in the game.
Sebastian Dzikowski, the 2023 U SPORTS player of the year and national goal-scoring leader got things started for the seventh-seeded Thunderbirds in the 45th minute of the first half. Thomas Pena pushed the ball past two defenders before tapping it back through multiple X-Men to find Dzikowski as UBC took the 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Logan Rieck had a solid chance for the X-Men early in the second chance on a well struck free kick but Thunderbirds keeper Bennett McKay got his hand on it to redirect it just over the top of the net.
UBC had a nice three-way passing play in the 52nd minute when Logan Chung found Luke Norman near the penalty spot to beat X-Men goalkeeper Diltz near post, making it 2-0 Thunderbirds.
The X-Men had consecutive corner kicks in the 68th and 69th minute but were unable to convert on their set pieces. They were finally able to find the back of the net in the 74th minute when captain Lewis Dye got up high with a header off of another corner kick to cut the deficit to just one.
Despite pressuring for the equalizer late in the game, the X-Men could not complete the comeback before time ran out.
The Thunderbirds will go on to face the Montréal Carabins in the first of two semifinals tomorrow at 4 p.m. (Atlantic), while the X-Men will take on the Carleton Ravens at 11 a.m. in a consolation semifinal match.
Nike Team players of the game:
UBC: Markus Kaiser
STFX: Lewis Dye