September 29, 2013, NANAIMO, B.C. –Down 1-0 in the first two minutes of play, the Okanagan Heat men’s soccer team had an uphill battle to fight with the defending national silver medalists, Vancouver Island University.
“It was a bad giveaway by us,” said Heat coach Dante Zanatta after the match, referencing the goal by VIU’s Farhad Abdulgani. “It was probably 60-40 possession for us the rest of the half,” he added, “It seemed like we were always in control of the game.”
Fourth-year Vernon, BC product Austin Jones would make things interesting by slipping one in at the 25th minute. The make would mark his fourth goal in as many matches. Both Jones and rookie forward Logan Abbott (Salmon Arm, BC) would see a few other good opportunities that would both be saved by the VIU keeper in the second half.
Heavy rains dogged both teams for the first half of the match. The score would stand 1-1 going into the second half, wherein the weather would clear up considerably. Still, the second half was more of a physical battle, which was to be expected by a team that boasts one of the largest frontlines in the league.
Nearly halfway through the second-half, the Heat would meet further adversity as third-year forward Nicolas Kmet (Sherwood Park, AB) would receive his second-yellow card, reducing the team to a ten-man effort on the turf.
Still, the Heat fought on, and with a few clutch saves by Heat keeper Logan Ellis (2nd year, Calgary, AB) they would preserve the 1-1 tie through the final whistle.
Despite the very early lapse, coach Zanatta was very pleased with how the team battled, especially given the circumstances.
“They’re a bit of our nemesis,” he said of the Mariners, “but we’ve shown that we’ve taken strides further.” He noted that there was not a way where they could win in a physical game with a team like the Mariners—instead, they would have to play a more technical and fundamental game. “We have to be a little bit more cognizant.”
When asked whether he could see his team faring well in a playoff bout with the Mariners, Zanatta waved the idea off, saying simply, “We have to make the playoffs first. One step at a time.”
The Heat now stand at 4-1-2 in PACWEST play and have not yet dropped a match on the road. VIU meanwhile moves to 3-2-2.
The Heat continue their final west coast swing tomorrow when they will visit the Capilano Blues. Kickoff for the match is at 2 p.m.