Top seeded Heat headed back to BCCAA Championships

UBC Okanagan Heat Women's soccer head coach - Claire Paterson (Photo by Rob Brown)

After finishing with an undefeated record of 10-0-2 in League Play and climbing to a  2nd in the National Rankings, the UBC Okanagan women’s soccer team are making the trip to Kwantlen Polytechnic University this weekend in Newton B.C., on a quest for Gold and the team’s first ever berth at a National Championships.

Since Claire Paterson has been at the helm of the Heat she has overseen a remarkable and unprecedented turn-around for the program. She has been here three seasons and every year the team has improved last fall with the Heat storming into the playoffs for the first time and into the second round, this season the Women’s team continued to surpass expectations by earning the top seed in their pool and with that an automatic bye into the second round.  Despite their monumental success and the confidence it provides for them, however, the team remains down-to-earth and focused on the task at hand.  “We are cautiously confident as we know that we need to ensure each time we step out onto the field that we are putting forward our best effort and playing our game to the highest level possible,” said the team’s head coach, Claire Paterson.  History has shown that a successful regular season such as the one the Heat has had doesn’t guarantee success in the playoffs.  “Last year an undefeated team lost their first game in the gold medal match. We keep that in mind and will do everything we can to be successful,” coach Paterson added.

Many of the players on the team experienced playoff-level play last year and are ready, knowing what to expect and how to handle the intensified atmosphere.  “We understand that when it is a single match to get to the final we need to come out very strong and play hard through the 90 minutes,” said Paterson.  The team will be looking to play hard and aggressively, doing their best to avoid going into an overtime situation. “We really want to do everything we can to win the match in regulation time,” coach Paterson also commented.

Graduating striker Emma Nixon of the Heat. (Photo by Rob Brown)

Having the extra day off due to their bye is a well earned and welcome reward for any team, and the Heat will embrace it.  “Having an opportunity to rest a bit more and play only two games this year instead of three is very valuable,” the team’s coach commented.  “Last year we ended up having to play extra time in our first match which left a lot of athletes tired for the semi-final.  We will be fresh for the semi-finals whereas the team we play will have had a hard fought match the day before.”

The Heat are going into the weekend with a proven desire and motivation to fight and achieve their goals, but no matter the result, they will be satisfied with the work and effort they have put out this season towards further improving themselves.  “No matter what happens this weekend we have had a very successful season,” coach Paterson said of her team.  “Going undefeated, earning first place in our division and being nationally ranked as high as 2nd in the country, nobody can take those accomplishments away from us.”

All matches of the BCCAA Women’s Soccer Championships are being held at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey, and the tourney is being hosted by the Kwantlen Eagles.  The Heat will play on Saturday at 12:00 pm against the winner of Friday’s match between the Langara Falcons and the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack. The other side of the bracket has Kwantlen squaring off against Quest on Friday at noon, the winner of which will advance to the semis against the Vancouver Island Mariners at noon on Saturday as well.  The Bronze and Gold medal games are scheduled for 11:00am and 1:30pm respectively.  Further details of the BCCAA Championships can be found on the BCCAA website at www.bccaa.ca/2010soccer.

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