Columbia athletics

Katalin Tolnai surveys the T-Birds ahead of the Pandas

VANCOUVER- Katalin Tolnai continued his superb run by scoring two more goals, including a long free kick in first-half stoppage time to help propel the UBC Thunderbirds past the Alberta Pandas 2-0 on Friday night at Thunderbird Stadium.

Tolnai, the reigning U SPORTS and Canada West Women’s Soccer Player of the Week, is in a zone and at a torrid pace after scoring five goals in her last two outings, adding to the hat trick she recorded in last Thursday’s 4-0 home opener against UVic.

“I feel really good, it’s been a good start to the season and let’s keep scoring,” Tolnai said after another explosive night. “From the free kick, I was honestly trying to hit the net as we were in the last minute of the first half and I congratulate my team-mates as we all work together to create chances.”

With the win, the T-Birds remain undefeated in Canada West’s fledgling season, improving to 4-0, still not conceding while outscoring their opponents 16-0. With the reverse, the Pandas fall to 1-2 on the campaign.

It was a very solid first half and overall game from a Pandas perspective on the road, forcing an even battle for field position and keeping the prolific T-Birds relatively in check before giving up a free kick. in the 45e minute that quickly changed the script. Tolnai lined up from 28 yards and sent a well-struck ball that continued to climb and found the top left corner past the outstretched arms of a diving Autumn Wynn tending the Panda goal. The surprise turn of events had the home crowd on their feet for what was a major boost in changing the 1-0 lead for the ‘Birds before the break.

Although the Pandas continue to not give an inch and take advantage of the game on the front foot, a costly turnover on their own side in the 88e minute allowed Tolnai to strike again by recovering a pass at the feet of Ava AlexanderTolnai turned with precision as she blasted off her defender and fired a right-footed shot inside the post from 12 yards out to seal the 2-0 victory.

“I think overall, defensively, we stayed very compact and dealt with threats and overloads when they tried to attack us,” added the UBC head coach. Jesse Symon. “Our quality shone going forward, I think we created quite well in the first half but not as deep as we wanted to be around their goal, then Katalin showed her quality tonight, she’s totally fit at the moment with two great goals we’ll have to clean up our movement up front, I think we’ve been offside at least eight or nine times tonight so we’ll work on our movement and hopefully be ready for tomorrow against MacEwan.”

Alberta would muster the first good chance of the suspicious deal in the 13e minute as forward Mckayla Brault fired a well-hit line shot from around 25 yards, but the T-Birds keeper Sarah John was in a good position for the corals.

VANCOUVER, BC: SEPTEMBER 9, 2022 -- UBC Thunderbirds vs University of Alberta in U Sports Canada West action at UBC in Vancouver, BC on September 9 September 2022. (Rich Lam/UBC Athletics Photo) ***MANDATORY CREDIT** *

UBC responded at minute 21 with one of their best chances of the half on a corner kick which was thrown by Sophie Ferreira before flowing dangerously into the mouth of the Pandas goal, but Alberta managed to crumble well before the hosts could touch it.

Four minutes later, it was Tolnai who created an opening from the left corner of the 18-yard box before firing a powerful shot from 15 yards, but Wynn, who was effective all evening in the Alberta goal, was in good position to make the save.

UBC almost added to their minutes lead in the second half as a substitute Jayda Thompson a great individual effort saw her win the ball back down the left flank before cutting inside and slicing through Pandas territory for a close-range shot that just went wide.

In the 81st minute, the Pandas looked to capitalize on their own free kick from the right sideline about 35 yards out. After the delivery, the ball bounced like a hot potato with no one able to hold it back until Alberta forward Emily Duxbury calmed it down and unleashed a powerful 14-yard shot forcing Johns to make a diving save for the purpose of UBC.


Both teams are back in action Saturday night as the T-Birds host defending U SPORTS National Champion MacEwan Griffins for a 5:00 p.m. kickoff at Thunderbird Stadium while the Pandas cross the water for a game against the UVic Vikes and a 6:00 p.m. departure.