BURNABY — The Lower Mainland’s most enduring university men’s soccer rivalry unfolded Friday evening as it always has, and the best part of all? It had nothing to do with the final score.
Simon Fraser against visiting UBC within the home team’s new stadium complex at Terry Fox Field, complete with an actual rousing crowd.
“It’s massive,” admitted SFU senior striker Connor Glennon following the match. “We have been waiting so long for this. It got pretty loud out there tonight.”
Veteran UBC head coach Mike Mosher shared a similar sentiment.
“As much as we have many of the same faces back, there’s a lot of challenges that come from what everybody has been through for the last 15-16 months… just a lack of games and a lack of match fitness,” began Mosher, a dean-like figure in B.C.’s university soccer community who is now a full quarter-century on the ‘Birds watch.
“But this is fun… this is fun right after everything that’s gone on. It’s getting back to some sense of normality. Overall we all managed it and that is what everybody will learn out of all of this, just being more adaptable.”
Oh, and by the way, within a shared history that has a solid two generations of crosstown play to recommend it, there was no mistaking the fact that right from the outset, the one thing this particular clash never lost over the course of the pandemic was its ability to so immediately offer the palpable feeling which defines a true rivalry.
Final score: Simon Fraser 1 UBC 1.
“It’s the B.C. rivalry and we always get up for it,” said Glennon, the Vernon native and former Whitecaps Residency player, who made the final score complete when he corralled a brilliant cross-field lob from defender Simone Masi, then danced around two Thunderbirds defenders before thundering a 30-yard blast high to the back of the goal.
“It’s the same as when we play our conference games… exactly the same,” continued Glennon, a W.L. Seaton grad. “It’s such a big game and we always get up for it.”
From a personal perspective especially, Glennon wasn’t kidding.
Including Friday’s game, the two schools have met three times since Glennon’s freshman campaign back in 2017, and in each game (including 2-0 and 3-1 wins at UBC in ’17 and ’18) he has scored a goal.
“Conner went into the half and said he thought he could score on them, one-on-one, if given the opportunity ,so it became ‘Can we isolate Conner and give him that opportunity,” said SFU head coach Clint Schneider, whose side had opened their new stadium with a 2-1 setback this past Monday in an exhibition against the Fraser Valley Cascades.
“He finally got the opportunity and what a finish (see below),” continued Schneider. “It was first class.”
If you get a chance at some point this year, head up to the Hill and catch a game in the new beautiful SFU Stadium. It was so much fun and a great atmosphere for the entire family. ⚽️🍁— Terry Fox Athletics (@TFSAthletics) August 28, 2021
@sfu_athletics @TerryFox43 pic.twitter.com/tE7gzoWQ8d
Simon Fraser had opened its exhibition season back on Aug. 20 with a 2-0 win in Langley over the host Trinity Western Spartans.
On Friday, UBC had opened the scoring with a tally midway through the opening half from fourth-year forward Victory Shumbusho, the Chilliwack native, who in 2019 scored a conference-leading 10 goals for the ‘Birds.
“He’s one of the better attacking players in our conference and he is hungry to see if he can get a (professional) opportunity somewhere along the line at the next level,” added Mosher, whose team sits at 1-1-1 in the exhibition season and will attempt to play three more matches before its scheduled Canada West opening weekend Sept. 10-11 in Kamloops against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
UBC opens the home portion of the all-B.C. league slate Sept. 24-25 on it own newly-installed turf at Thunderbird Stadium against Prince George’s UNBC Timberwolves.
SFU’s Schneider, ahead of playing the visitor’s role over a scheduled six-game slate of non-conference U.S. foes through the first-half of September, put Friday’s crosstown match into perspective.
“I mean UBC is always a great litmus test for us as a team,” he said. “They are traditionally one of the best in B.C. if not in Canada, so I think the draw was a fair result. Obviously we wanted more from the game. Maybe we were unfortunate not to get more. Their keeper did well, we didn’t finish chances. Hopefully we got that out of our system. Overall I am pleased with the performance.”
Beginning with a Sept. 2 date at Azusa Pacific, Simon Fraser plays matches in California, Washington and Texas, then settles in for concentrated training before opening the GNAC season Sept. 30 at St. Martin’s.
It’s home-opening week within the conference doesn’t come until it hosts Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific Oct. 14 and 16 respectively.
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