Grayson Leahy & Oliver Rizun, Heat Athletics
KELOWNA, B.C. - Despite scoring the first goal of the season against Chad Bush, the Heat fell 2-1 to their rival the UBC Thunderbirds in the season opener at UBC Okanagan's Nonis Field.
Victory Shumbusho scored the game's first goal for the 'Birds in the 10th minute, before a goal from second year midfielder Christian Taylor, on an assist from Bret Depner, tied it up for UBC Okanagan in the 14th minute. The third goal of the first half, and the last of the match, came on a Thunderbirds free kick in stoppage time.
Keeping pace with the more experienced UBC side, the Heat were unable to even the score in the final minutes despite a pair of opportunities late. After some ball control and defensive play by the Thunderbirds, the final whistle blew after about four minutes of stoppage time with the final score two goals to one for the visitors.
Turning Point: Kyle Sohi was able to capitalize on a free kick in the first half's stoppage time, burying it in the left corner past diving freshman Heat keeper Carl Vandekraats. The goal put the visiting side ahead, where they would stay until the final whistle.
Key Performance: Carl Vandekraats. The first year UBC Okanagan keeper got the start in the Heat's season opener due to regular starting keeper and Canada West All-Star Mitch McCaw earning a one-game suspension carried over from last season's playoff match.
Taylor's first: Christian Taylor's goal at the 14 minute mark was the first career goal for the UBCO sophomore.
Who controlled the pace: The more senior Thunderbirds team had the advantage in both play and possession through most of the match, making use of skilled footwork and momentum from their first two victories this season to keep the young Okanagan side at bay. The temperature on the pitch, sitting around 40 degrees celsius, slowed the pace in the second half, and brought out a more strategic gameplan from the visitors that worked to their advantage.
Inside the numbers: Statistically the T-Birds had the edge, finishing with eight shots on 12 attempts compared to four shots on goal in seven attempts for the Heat.
Key Saves: First year Heat goalie Carl Vandekraats came up with a huge save just minutes into the second half to keep the Heat in it.
Missed chances: A cross in the 86th minute put the ball on the foot of UBC Okanagan's Taylor Piche with an open look to potentially tie it up at two goals apiece, but a bit too much power from the freshman Heat midfielder put the ball a few feet over the crossbar.
Rookies with their first CW action: Vandekraats started in goal and rookie Jimmy Steel came in late in the first half to make his Heat debut taking 4th year science student Cole Kingzett off. Five other first year players saw the field today for the Heat including: Juan Pinos, Sam McDonald, Aaron Mulama, Taylor Piche and Andrei Stalfort.
Whats next: The UBC Okanagan Heat (0-1-0) play the University of Victoria Vikes (0-2-1) on Sunday, September 3 at 3 p.m. PDT at Nonis Field in Kelowna. The UBC Thunderbirds (3-0-0) will take on the TRU WolfPack (1-1-1) at 2 p.n. PDT in Kamloops, B.C.