Men’s Soccer (Canada West Conference play)
UNBC Timberwolves (0-1-0) vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (1-0-0)
|Goals by period||1||2||Tot|
|UBC Okanagan Heat||0||2||2|
HEAT SCORING SUMMARY:
1. Cole Kingzett (1)
2. Jorden Leib (1)
PRINCE GEORGE, BC– A knowing smile would creep across Heat men’s soccer head coach Dante Zanatta Saturday following his team’s 2-0 victory over the UNBC Timberwolves in Prince George to open their first Canada West season.
Coming into their inaugural campaign in Canadian university sports’ highest level of competition, Zanatta knew his team had to get bigger and stronger to be able to compete. Now boasting a squad that was entirely handpicked by him for his fourth tour at the helm of the team and bringing in a seven rookies whose many of which stood over six feet tall, a new mean length amongst his players might very well be the formula for success in Canada West for UBC Okanagan. His plan just might work after all.
Too bad, then, that the craftiness of 5’10 Jorden Leib stole the spotlight of the day for their debut contest wearing the big boy pants.
Leib, a fourth-year forward from Bellingham, WA, did the yeoman’s share of the work on the offensive end Saturday against the Timberwolves, deftly working his way around and through opposing defenders down the left side, both creating chances for his teammates while finding open looks for himself.
Ten minutes into the second half, the scored tied at nil, Leib found himself the beneficiary of a pass from the midfield. Spinning around his defender and beating him down to the left corner, Leib deftly scooped an on-point pass to Kingzett in front of the net, and the latter cleaned up the perfect set for a 1-0 Heat lead at the 53rd minute mark.
Then, in the 73rd minute, a long throw in from Joe Gill (Abbotsford, BC) was tipped by Austin Jones (Vernon, BC) directly to Leib. Leib, open six yards out, finished by sending the ball just past the outstretched fingers of the Timberwolves’ keeper to put his team up 2-0, a mark that would last through the final whistle.
Seeing the fruit bear itself from the labour put in over the summer, coach Zanatta praised his guys after the game, saying that they “came in very focused, and played some very nice football.”
For the first league game Zanatta gave the nod to second-year keeper Christopher Cuthill (Delta, BC), it was his first conference start after logging just 10 minutes in his freshman season.
A few scares came Cuthill’s way late, particularly when a scramble in front of the Heat’s net in the 86th minute opened up an opportunity for UNBC’s Cheona Ederza, but Cuthill denied him. Another shot right before the last whistle by Francessco Bartolillo nearly squeezed in over Cuthill’s head, but the Heat keeper caught a break as the ball rebounded high off the crossbar.
In the end, Cuthill would notch his first win for UBC Okanagan impressively as a Canada West shutout, with six saves. His counterpart in Ty Venhola suffered more pressure to wrap up with ten saves alongside the two goals against.
“He was a bit of a project last year,” Zanatta said of Cuthill, “[but] I thought he improved over the summer and pushed his way to the starter [spot]. As the game wore on, he got better and better. He covers a large portion of the net , and for the vast majority of the game he did well holding things.”
“He answered the call, and it was good to see him step up,” Zanatta concluded concerning Cuthill.
The Heat maintained excellent control of the ball on the offensive end, outshooting the Timberwolves 21-10 for the day.
In addition to Kingzett’s efforts, Zanatta praised fellow rookies Shaun Pilcher (Coquitlam, BC), and Robert Hamilton (North Vancouver, BC) the former two of whom started the match for the Heat.
“Two rookies started for us in Canada West, and another came on to help us secure the win—I think it’s good for their careers and the university,” Zanatta said.
The Heat and Timberwolves will be at it again, where UBC Okanagan attempt to win a second straight on the season Sunday at noon on the NCSSL field.
~ With notes from Jesse Olynyk, Sports Information Officer, University of Northern British Columbia