In the men’s PACWEST soccer final the UBC Okanagan Heat jumped out to a three to nothing lead and held on the 3-2 win over the UNBC Timberwolves to take home the PACWEST bronze medal on Sunday.
This is the first provincial medal in men’s soccer since the school rejoined the league in 1992. The Heat improved from 2-9-1 in the previous season to provincial medalists in Dante Zanatta’s first year as head coach.
This was the last year in the PACWEST league for the Timberwolves as they will jump into the Canada West with their soccer programs in September of 2012.
UBC Okanagan forward Zach Donaldson-Hall (4th year, Kamloops, BC) scored on a bullet of a shot after a scramble to put the Heat up quickly 1-0.
Shortly after Zach’s goal, Heat first year player Andrew Pinguelo (forward, Vancouver, BC) sent a cross to forward Andrew Hauser (1st year, Salmon Arm, BC), who easily finished on the chance with the keeper caught out of position.
The Heat kept up the pressure on UNBC and again the ball found Hauser’s foot on a rebound on a low shot that the UNBC keeper was unable to secure. Hauser’s second goal of the game put the Heat up 3-0 less than 30 minutes into the match.
UNBC was undaunted down despite being down three. With lots of time left in the game the Timberwolves increased the offensive pressure on the Heat. The Timberwolves had a good chance shooting just over the cross bar, and Heat keeper Spencer Brown (5th year, West Kelowna, BC) mishandled another Timberwolves chance, but the Heat weathered the storm.
UNBC midfielder Kellen Strobl (3rd year, Prince George, BC) came down the right side and got off a good shot that Brown got a piece of, but not enough as the Timberwolves get on the board to make the score 3-1 before half time.
In the second half the Timberwolves kept up the pressure, forcing Spencer Brown to make a handful of clutch saves to preserve the Heat’s two goal cushion.
In his final game for the Heat, forward Thomas Simkins (5th year, West Kelowna, BC) looked to add to his all time total at the school as he just missed finishing on a brilliant cross from Donaldson-Hall.
UNBC was able to get within one goal late in the game as defender Scott DeBianchi (5th year, Prince George, BC) hit a great shot, scoring on a ball from well outside the penalty area. Fortunately for the Heat, time ran out before the Timberwolves could tie the game up. UBC Okanagan wins PACWEST provincial bronze, 3-2.
All time leading Heat career goal scorer Thomas Simkins wrapped up his career at UBC Okanagan and was pleased the way it ended.
"It's nice to have some success in my last year of eligibility. The program is heading in the right direction with Dante and Tom at the helm. I've made some great friends that will probably be friends for the rest of my life. It's really helped school go by."
All three of the team’s fifth year players are from the Westside and graduated from Mount Boucherie Secondary. Spencer Brown, the PACWEST first team all-star keeper for the Heat, enjoyed his career as a Heat keeper.
"I was really happy to end my time here with a bronze medal and a win; it's really shown how our team has grown compared to previous years. I look back at my time here with fond memories."
He will go on to play varsity volleyball with UBC Okanagan for the reminder of their season.
Along with Brown and Simkins, the third fifth year player was defender Austin Ross.
"I'm really happy that Dante came in this year and turned things around. We had a good group of young guys come in and help out the team; it's just too bad that it's my last year and they get to go off and win the whole thing next year."
Heat head coach Dante Zanatta is thankful for the contributions of his veterans but is already looking forward to building on this year’s success for next season:
“For the graduating players it was wonderful that they could finish off their career with some success. The program in general has taken some work, the game has been good, but we can still be better. It is a process, but it's a good step. Our goal is to build into a full time program with strength and conditioning in the spring. Hopefully next year we'll play in the gold medal game next year like the women's team is right now.”
The Timberwolves finish their last PACWEST season with a (6-4-2) record and a fourth place finish at the championship. While the Heat only lost three matches all year and two of them were to the top ranked VIU Mariners, the Heat’s regular season was (4-2-5) and they finished the championships winning two of three games played.