UBC Okanagan saw an undefeated season come to the end today on the field in Newton at the BCCAA Provincial Championship semi final as the Heat fell to Langara Falcons 3-2 in penalty kicks.
It was a shaky start for the Heat as the favorites definitely came out nervous and the Falcons were able to capitalize almost immediately, in the eight minute the Heat defenders struggled to put pressure on the ball at the top of the eighteen yard box allowing the Falcons to strike first. Down early but definitely not out UBC Okanagan began to settle into the game and started to gain back some of the momentum going into the half. Heat went into the half down 1-0.
The Heat came out battling in the second half and out of sheer hard work managed to claw a the goal back in the 53rd minute when BCCAA player of the year Alexa Kennedy chased down a back pass to the Langara goalkeeper and blocked the keepers attempted clearance which rebounded into the net. After Kennedy’s goal the Heat renewed their efforts and continued to work hard creating several more chances until second year midfielder Andrea Noppers scored her first goal of the season as she placed the ball past the Lanagara goalkeeper from 20 yards out in the 68th minute putting the Heat up 2-1.
Langara answered back in the 74th minute tying the game at 2 after the Falcons had moved up their central defender to an attacking role enabling her to shake off two Heat defenders and clinically hammer a ball into the corner. Although UBC Okanagan had a few more quality chances as the regulation time came to a close they could not break the stalemate 2-2 sending the game into extra time.
At the BCCAA provincial championships they allow for two periods of fifteen minutes of non-sudden death extra time. The Heat dominated possession and opportunities in the extra time but was unable to score as the Falcon’s strategy to drop back and play for a shoot out was working. Second year Emily Braun came ever so close in the last minute of extra time as she gathered in one Jennifer Kidd’s crosses to the back post but the Braun’s effort just squeaked wide. After a grueling 120 minutes of intense championship soccer this one was to be decided by penalty kicks.
UBC Okanagan was up first and top goal scorer Alexa Kennedy stepped up to the plate. Her effort beat the Langara keeper but not the post. Langara clinically took their shot and got on the board. Next up for the Heat was first year defender Kira Byers very familiar with the pressure of penalty kicks as her Claremont high school team won provincials in penalty kicks. She hit a good shot past the Falcon keeper to get the Heat on the board. Langara stepped up again and notched another while the Heat keeper guessed the right way but just missed getting her fingers on it. Jennifer Kidd was up next for the Heat and clinically finished her pk to even it at two. Langara slotted a 3rd in a row. Andrea Noppers stepped up for her attempt but was stopped by the Falcon keeper. The 4th shooter from Langara stepped up and sealed UBC Okanagan's fate by finishing her attempt.
"Despite the shaky start which had us digging out of a hole early we played well today,” added Claire Paterson. “The ball movement and possession was great, we created loads of opportunities to score it just wasn't our day. We did everything we could and left it all out on the field. Of course we are disappointed as we were so close but we made some fantastic strides forward this year - last year we lost 3-0 to LC in the semi final and this year it took pk's to beat us."
Graduating fourth year Emma Nixon who has seen this team grow tremendously in her UBC Okanagan career summed it up nicely. "It's probably one of the toughest losses to accept. We outplayed the opposition for 110 minutes, and every single person left it all out on the field. Unfortunately it didn't work out in our favor today but we still have so much to be proud of as we accomplished so much this season."