KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat men's soccer team played to a scoreless draw on Saturday afternoon, in the first of a pair of Thanksgiving Weekend matches against the visiting University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves. With neither team able to net one on the afternoon, it was a scoreless 90 minutes across the board.
Play was relatively slow throughout the first half, as neither team truly found their stride or finished feeling out the other before the 45-minute whistle. With five shots recorded in the opening half, there were few legitimate scoring chances, with each team having one real chance in the half to break the deadlock.
The second half had a quicker pace, but both teams were still chasing their offensive rhythm. Neither side took over the momentum, and back-and-forth play was the defining aspect of the final 45. Near the end of the match each side was able to capitalize on well-executed strategy and get a couple of chances, but near-misses and saves kept the board scoreless through to the final whistle.
The first real chance of the match came early on for the Heat, as Sam McDonald got a good foot on one, but sent it wide right in the 15th minute. The first for UNBC came on a corner kick that sailed at a good level into the box, which Heat keeper Mitch McCaw was able to get to and punch well out of the box. UNBC's Francesco Bartolillo then had a shot in the 28th minute, but slid it out past the right post.
The Timberwolves got the first shot on goal of the half right off the jump, as Stuart Rowlands put a shot on that forced McCaw to make a save at 45:21. UBCO's Andrei Stalfort had the best look for the Heat, as he took a shot from the top of the box in the 75th that just sailed outside the left post. McCaw had to make his toughest save of the night late in the match, as UNBC's Tofa Fakunle got a strong boot on one that was stopped by a diving save from the veteran Heat keeper.
Though ten shots were recorded on Saturday, just two resulted in saves by a keeper, with both of those saves in the Heat end.
Tyrone Venhola was in net for the Timberwolves, and did not face a recorded shot on goal from the Heat. With four shots recorded by the home side, none were saved by Venhola, and one was stopped by a defensive save.
Heat keeper Mitch McCaw, back-to-back Canada West Star of the Week, stopped both shots recorded as on goal against him, extending his scoreless run to 519 minutes and five consecutive clean sheets. McCaw has six clean sheets on the season - tied with Connor James (ALB) for the conference lead. James holds the season conference record in Canada West with eight set last year.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (5-3-2) and UNBC Timberwolves (4-5-4) will face off again tomorrow, Sunday, October 8, at 3 p.m. at Kelowna's Nonis Field.
Grayson Leahy, Heat athletics