VANCOUVER - On a rainy Saturday night in Vancouver the UBC Okanagan men's soccer team were held scoreless by the UBC Thunderbirds who closed out their last home stand of the season at Thunderbird Stadium with a 1-0 take down of the Heat
The wet pitch seemed to have both team's playing cautious but a screamer of the foot of UBC's Zach Verhoven's at the 60th minute was enough to give UBC the win in a matchup between two of the stingiest defenses in Canada West.
These two road matches for UBC Okanagan were mirror images of each other as the Heat lost last night in Victoria also by a score of 1-0, and also by a goal in the latter part of the second half the UBCO was unable to find an equalizer too.
The two road losses have the UBCO Heat at (5-5-3) and in third place, meanwhile the UBC Thunderbirds are (9-3-1) and have secured first place in Canada West's Pacific Division.
The lone goal
The second half saw the introduction of Verhoven and with fresh legs his 60th minute strike broke the deadlock.
First year T-Bird midfielder Patrick Izett took a bouncing ball on the wet turf down the right side and sent a loping cross to the unmarked Verhoven waiting on the left side about 25 yards out. Verhoven gathered in the pass made one small move put the ball on his right foot and hit the top left corner leaving McCaw with no chance to get a hand on the laser.
All about the Defense
While the Thunderbirds generated a ton of pressure going forward, the Heat's defense impressively absorbed much of the T-Birds attack.
The 53rd minute showcased UBCO's defensive finesse when keeper Mitch McCaw parried away a great chance by Thunderbirds' Patrick Izett. A goal line clearance and another McCaw save kept the game at a draw for the time being. McCaw had an impressive night finishing with five saves on six shots faced.
In a game that didn't feature many clear cut chances UBC's Kristian Yli-Hietanen climbed above the Heat defense in the 43rd to head in what seemed to be a goal, but was waved off-side by the referee, an example of how close the game was.
"We're good defensively and we battled, but we need to get better going forward," said UBCO head coach Dante Zanatta. "We still kind of control our destiny in the fact that if we get some results we're ok."
"Every year the goal is to come first in the division and we think, set ourselves up to give ourselves the best chance to move forward to a national tournament," UBC head coach Mike Mosher said. "It's something we really want to take pride in."
The only time UBC keeper Chad Bush was challenged was in the 88th minute.
After a free kick from Nikhil Reddy was knocked around it was Heat right back Shaun Pilcher who finally placed a header towards Bush, who gathered in the chance knocking away the last chance from the Heat, keeping his clean sheet and protecting UBC's 1-0 lead.
UBCO will host Thompson Rivers University at Nonis Field on Thursday, October 19th in their last home regular season match of the year, as always the graduating players will be honoured prior to the match. They close out the season in Kamloops on Saturday with their second match against TRU.
UBC will be back in action next weekend when they visit Trinity Western Friday, October 21st.
~ with notes from Zach Conard, Thunderbirds communications