VANCOUVER – The Trinity Western University Spartans will play for the 2018 Canada West men's soccer championship after beating Thompson Rivers 3-0 Friday at Thunderbird Stadium. With the win, the Spartans also earn a spot in the U SPORTS championship tournament for the first time since 2009.
Goalie Sebastian Colyn (Langley, B.C.) earned the clean sheet, making three saves for the Spartans.
The Spartans will play the UBC Thunderbirds in Sunday's gold medal match (2 p.m. at Thunderbird Stadium) after UBC pummeled the University of Fraser Valley Cascades 6-0 in their semifinal.
TWU will be seeking its first Canada West championship since 2007.
UFV will meet the WolfPack in the bronze medal match Saturday at 7 p.m.
The loss snapped the WolfPack's six-match winning streak.
Jackson Gardner played the first half in the nets for TRU, with Alex Ram playing the final 45 minutes.
Poletto launched the Spartans offensive foray in the sixth minute when a bouncing ball landed at his feet near the top of the box and he sliced a shot through a forest of players and into the back of the net.
In the 29th minute, it was Poletto sparking the Spartans second goal, as he sent a brilliant cross into the box off the left wing, finding the head of Fransen, who knocked it in off the crossbar.
Fransen rounded out the scoring in the 90th minute, catching TRU pushing ahead and slotting the ball into a wide-open net after collecting a bouncing ball off the WolfPack keeper from well outside the box.
TWU finished the night with a 7-3 edge in shots on goal.
TWU Head Coach Mike Shearon
"The two goals in first half set tone. It was important to get the first one. It's always important to get the first one against this team (TRU). They have worked really hard all year. They keep building on their momentum. We needed to get an early one to cool them down. The second one was very timely. That settled things down."
On weathering storm in second half
"We talked a lot about that at half time. They are a team that has doesn't quit. They were going to fight the entire match. If we didn't match their effort we were going to be in trouble. Credit to the guys in the back. Credit to Bussy (Colyn). We locked a lot of stuff down. We had to work really hard to get the shutout."
On a few standout players
"Leighton Johnson was fantastic tonight. He has been one of our best players over the year. We can always count on him. Dom Poletto had a goal. He was fantastic. Dommy keeps pushing forward. The guys in the back did awesome as well."
• Shearon said the team dedicated the victory to student Maddy Hardy, a student at TWU who is battling cancer. He said she is his team's inspiration at these championships.
• TWU is looking to take on more step up the Canada West podium this year, having won a bronze medal in 2016 and a silver medal in 2017.
• The last time TWU won a Canada West title was in 2007, when they capped a run of three straight conference championships.
• The last time the Spartans played in the U SPORTS championship was when TWU hosted the event in 2009 and won a bronze medal.