The UBC Okanagan men’s soccer team took a giant step towards securing their first appearance at a PACWEST provincial soccer championship when they played the No. 2 men’s team in the country, the Vancouver Island University Mariners, on their home turf and came away with a 1-1 draw. The Heat improve to (4-2-4) and the Mariners sit at (7-0-3).
With the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (4-4-2) falling to the Capilano Blues (5-3-2) today the Heat still have control of their own destiny as a win will clinch the desired berth in the PACWEST provincial championships Oct. 28-30in Kelowna, B.C.
In what was a game that saw many outstanding saves from both teams keepers, it come as no surprise that keeper Spencer Brown (5th year, West Kelowna, BC) was the man of the match. Spencer made an outstanding save in the first half and two crucial saves in the second half to power the Heat to a draw versus the highly ranked Mariners.
Defender Ernesto Rosario (1st year, Burnaby, BC) drew first blood in the match as he found a way to get the ball past the VIU keeper in the 39th minute. The Heat could not celebrate for long as the Mariners struck right back just four minutes later on a free kick.
The teams went in tied 1-1 at the half, and although both teams had some great chances to score a game winner throughout the second half, neither side was able to find the net. The keepers from both squads were more than up to the task.
Late in the game UBC Okanagan had a great chance when midfielder Mason Hampel (1st year, Kamloops, BC) was denied the game winner by the Mariner keeper.
UBC Okanagan coach Dante Zanatta was pleased with his squad but was quick to point out that the work isn’t done yet: “The boys played hard and competed well….they are not satisfied; they wanted to come away with a win.”
The switch to the grass field was a concern during the week of practice for the Heat, but on Saturday it did not slow down their quicker players. Zanatta was pleased, adding that his team “handled the slippery field conditions well.”
The immediate goal for the Heat is securing a berth in the upcoming championships. As such, Coach Zanatta is looking at it like this: “The playoffs for us begin tomorrow; we win and we are in.”
This playoff-like game will be against the Capilano Blues, who like the Heat can lock up a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. These two teams will be playing for their playoff lives tomorrow at 2 p.m. on the Capilano Blues home field in North Vancouver, B.C.