In the rearview mirror was a loss in the 2010 CIS final, and a 90th-minute loss sustained to Alberta in the 2011 Canada West conference final, a setback that denied the most successful program in the Canadian university game a chance to return to national championships.
On Sunday in Quebec City, however, with that window wide open, the Birds seized the moment.
Steve Johnson scored in the eighth minute, deflecting home a Marco Visintin free kick, and UBC’s retooled veteran back line slammed the door as it has done so many times this season, lifting the Birds to a 1-0 win over the Cape Breton Capers, giving the Point Grey school its record 12th Sam Davidson Memorial trophy.
“I’ve have been fortunate to be with a lot of championship teams as a player and as a coach,” said Mosher, who now has won four titles as head coach and three as a player. “This team ranks right up there. I guess the stats do speak for themselves. We ran the table.”
Indeed, the 2012 Thunderbirds put up numbers that make them one of the most dominant teams in the history of Canadian university men’s soccer.
The victory over the Capers capped an undefeated season at 21-0-3 that featured 16 clean sheets and a plus-61 goal differential. UBC also set the Canada West record for most regular-season points, 36, by virtue of its 11-0-3 record. It beat the only NCAA Div. 1 team it played (2-1 over Seattle University in its opener), and at the national tournament it shut out all three of its foes, outscoring them 8-0 in the process.
“I guess we’ll see how we’re remembered,” said elated UBC right back Devin Gunenc of the 2012 team. “Our coach kept telling us that we were breaking records. But we’ve just been focused from the get-go. We just wanted to win this trophy. All we wanted to do was fight for each other.”
And when that kind of mindset accompanies a team as comprehensively talented as UBC, you get what you got Sunday.
Canada West Player of the Year Gagan Dosanjh, who scored twice in UBC’s 3-0 win over host Laval in Friday’s national semifinal, was picked the tournament MVP. And Johnson earned Player of the Game honours for his winning goal.
“I do think it’s a complete team,” concluded Mosher, who has now coached the Birds for 17 seasons. “We score off set pieces, we win balls in the air, we can defend, we can attack. We can roll up our sleeves and fight, but we also have skill. There was so much intelligence and discipline. This team had the highest GPA of any team I’ve coached. I don’t think this team has any weaknesses.”