SASKATOON, Sask. – Heat freshmen Mark Lawrance scored his first career goal but it was Nikolas Baikas two-goal performance that carried the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men's soccer team to a (2-1) victory over UBCO on Sunday, Sept. 22 at Griffiths Stadium in Nutrien Park.
Baikas, who opened the scoring in the 18th minute, also closed the scoring in the 65th minute, as his second-half tally stood as the game-winning goal.
Mark Lawrance's first goal of his Heat career, which took place in the 50th minute, was the lone marker for the visitors.
Huskies goalkeeper Marcus Baxter chalked his second win of the season, with the Saskatoon product registering two saves for the home side.
While on the opposite end of the pitch, Heat goalkeeper Nicholas Reitsma also registered two saves in the loss.
The victory, which is Saskatchewan's first since Aug. 23, moves the club to (2-3-4) on the season and into sole possession of third place in the Prairie Division.
Meanwhile, the loss drops UBCO (6-3-1) on the season, as the visitors conclude their two-game eastern road swing with consecutive losses.
"Saskatchewan's a good squad, but I felt like we gifted them two goals today," said Heat head coach Dante Zanatta. "The weekend was tough; we have to learn how to be significantly better at some things. The good thing about this group is they've earned the right to have points they have, but now we have to learn from this weekend."
The Huskies got on board in the 18th minute after Baikas forced a Reitsma giveaway. The Saskatoon product sprung Marcello Gonzalez running down the wing, who then cut back into the box, but his shot rang off the post. Fortunately for Saskatchewan, the ricochet fell back to Baikas and the second-year forward finished what he started for his second goal of the season.
The Huskies were looking for more in the 25th minute when Fraser McLeod started a nifty passing play, Baikas' backheel sprung the first-year midfielder in on goal, but Reitsma denied his right-footed crack. However, when the rebound caromed back into the box back to McLeod, he was able to draw a foul in the box, which gave Saskatchewan an opportunity to extend their lead.
However, Baikas was unable to convert from the spot, as his penalty kick missed wide, allowing the Heat to stay within striking distance.
Following their 2-0 loss on Saturday afternoon to Trinity Western, Saskatchewan responded with a solid first half, and outshot UBCO 6-5 over the first 45 minutes of action and held a 3-1 advantage in shots on net.
However, it took just minutes into the second half for UBCO to respond. Similar to the opening Saskatchewan goal, a keeper giveaway provided the opponent with a scoring opportunity.
Baxter's goal kick wound up finding the Heat, who hopped onto the attack. The ball eventually made its way to Lawrance, a first-year forward, who snuck his shot past Baxter to record his first career U SPORTS goal.
But the Huskies weren't prepared to settle for their fourth draw in their last five matches, as Baikas provided the break-through. The Saskatoon product creatively inbounded the ball off the back of his teammate and proceeded to whip in a magnificent, curling crack from the sideline which found the top-right corner of the cage to re-establish the Saskatchewan lead.
The Huskies were able to weather the storm and hold off any quality chances from UBCO in the late stages of the second half, completing the comeback victory and ensuring three-points for the home side.
UBCO will return to Kelowna for a pair of games against Pacific Division rivals when they take on the Fraser Valley Cascades and Trinity Western Spartans next weekend. The match this Saturday (Sept. 28) will be a part of the UBC Okanagan Homecoming festivities. Both matches start at 3 p.m.
Saskatchewan will continue with their five-game homestand next Saturday in Saskatoon when they welcome the Lethbridge Pronghorns to Griffiths Stadium in what will be the Huskies lone match of the weekend.
~ Matt Johnson, Huskies Athletics