September 7, 2013, KELOWNA, BC – The Vancouver Island University Mariners are the defending CCAA men’s soccer silver medalists and one of the most physically tough teams in the league. None of that mattered to the Okanagan Heat men’s soccer team as they fought VIU valiantly through rainy conditions Saturday afternoon, ultimately falling to the Mariners 4-2.
“They’re a physical team,” Heat coach Dante Zanatta said after the match of VIU. “I thought for the vast majority of the game it wasn’t anything dirty. It was just a physical soccer game.”
Relentless rain did not help the situation, with players slipping and sliding this way and that. “That’s football for you,” Coach Zanatta said with a smile. If anything, the conditions served to intensify each team’s will to win the season opener.
VIU’s Nick Moore scored the match’s first goal off of a penalty kick, but the Heat’s Dylan Abbott (3rd year, Salmon Arm, BC) sent a sizzling free kick straight into the top right corner to even things up early on.
A costly mistake by keeper Logan Ellis (2nd year, Calgary, AB) resulted in VIU snagging a 2-1 lead that visibly deflated the Heat. The Mariners’ Farhad Abdulgani (3rd year, Oslo, Norway) snuck in goal number three before the half for his team during a scramble in front of the Heat’s net.
The Heat came back with a fire in the second half, finding more rhythm on the offense that would lead to Jorden Leib (3rd year, Bellingham, WA) tipping one in off a corner kick. At 3-2, the Heat felt like they could still even things up.
However, VIU’s David Durrant (2nd year, London, England) got one past Ellis for a 4-2 clincher that would stand until the final whistle.
“I think our guys responded well [to the physicality of the game],” Zanatta said of his squad. “They didn’t back down. I was very happy with how the team responded and gave as much as they took.”
The Heat will host the Capilano University Blues Sunday, September 8th with kickoff at 2 p.m.