KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan women's soccer team earned their first win of the 2017 season on Sunday afternoon, beating the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns 1-0 at Nonis Field. Heat keeper Francesca Balletta earned her second career shutout in the win.
Kylee Walker gave the Heat their first lead of the season when she put the home side up 1-0 midway through the first half. Shortly before she managed to net one, Walker and Mackenzie Pfoh nearly connected on a quick cross inside the box, but the resulting shot popped just over the crossbar.
With the Heat up 1-0 at half-time, the second half saw somewhat more desperate play from the Pronghorns, who were unable to tie the game up before the final whistle. There were a number of chances for either side, including a couple of scrums that nearly resulted in a goal at either end.
In the 28th minute Lauren Candelario put a lead pass onto the foot of Kylie Walker, who made a nice move to skip around Lethbridge's sliding keeper and place the ball into the bottom right corner for her first goal of the season, giving the Heat women their first lead of the season.
Francesca Balletta was composed throughout in her second shutout for the Heat, stopping all six shots on goal by the Pronghorns in the match. Of those six saves, three were in the final minutes as Lethbridge had everyone up front to put as many shots on goal as possible trying to tie it up. Balletta turned away shots from Nikki Furakawa in the 84th and 90th, and stopped a chance from Raeleen Vanden Dungen in extra time to close out the clean sheet victory.
Micaela Stone was in net for the Pronghorns, making five saves on six shots on goal against her. She was tested early, making her most impressive save of the afternoon just eight minutes in, when Ally Ferronato put a free kick on net from twenty-some yards out that curled towards the inside of the far post, before Stone dove to her right to make the leaping stop.
Fourth year Heat defender Jasmine Cooper was voted UBC Okanagan's MVP of the match, playing the full 90 minutes and getting a pair of shots away, including one that forced Stone to make one of her five saves.
First year UBCO forward Mackenzie Pfoh was leading the charge for the Heat offence on Sunday afternoon, putting her speed to use at both ends of the pitch and contributing both offensively and defensively. Her aggressive approach to contests for the ball earned a greater number of offensive opportunities for the Heat then seen in previous contests. She added two shots, and nearly earned an assist in the first half with a perfect pass through the box to eventual Heat goal-scorer Kylee Walker.
For the Pronghorns, it was Raeleen Vanden Dungen voted as Lethbridge's MVP on the day. The midfielder played the full 90, earning a recorded shot on goal when she put one on net in extra time that had Francesca Balletta make her final save of the match.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (1-9-2) will close out their season at home next weekend, hosting the MacEwan Griffins (7-4-1) on Saturday, October 21 at 11 a.m. PDT, and the UNBC Timberwolves (3-7-2) on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m. PDT.
The Lethbridge Pronghorns (4-6-2) head back to Alberta next weekend for their final games. They will host the Alberta Pandas (8-2-2) on Saturday, October 21 and the Mount Royal Cougars (4-4-4) On Sunday, October 22.
~ Grayson B. Leahy - Heat Sports Information