VANCOUVER, B.C, – The last time the UBC Thunderbirds lost a men’s soccer game to a university team in Canada was on Sep 8, 2013 when the Fraser Valley Cascades shocked the Thunderbirds 1-0, since then the T-Birds have reeled off 23 straight wins.
The UBC Okanagan Heat played a very strong match against their host, but became victim number 24 as the top ranked team in Canada held off the UBC Okanagan Heat 2-0 Saturday night on David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium.
UBC Okanagan matched the juggernaut’s pace from the start of the match feeling no ill effects of the ferry ride over from Victoria or the devastating draw the Heat played to Friday night in the Capital City.
The deciding goal came just before the halftime whistle as Sean Einarsson controlled a high ball with his chest before placing a short range shot into the UBC Okanagan net, making it 1-0 for the home team.
The goal just before the half “took a little bit of the wind out of the sails,” thought head coach Dante Zanatta. “We were doing quite well, I thought the boys played well and competed against the No. 1 ranked team in the country.”
“Tait [Christopher Cuthill, 2nd year keeper and MVP of today’s match] had a great game but our inexperience at some positions hurt us but overall they came out to play,” said Zanatta.
“The boys learned from the first game the kind of pace and things they [UBC] have, they adjusted the level of play and played well,” Dante answered when comparing the first time his team met the Thunderbirds in a 4-0 loss on September 20 in Kelowna in which the Thunderbirds scored all four goals in the first half, two in the first 20 minutes.
“For the vast majority of the game we did quite well they are a very good team and they create chances, but I didn’t think we did a good enough job of stringing enough passes together to give us a chance to create, we had a couple of good shots on goal but we weren’t moving forward enough offensively but then that is something we have to work on.”
Dylan Abbott had a memorable game in the midfield, with several good balls in to the Heat forwards, the first dangerous moment of the game came from UBC Okanagan as Jorden Leib capitalized on a rare UBC defensive miscommunication, stole the ball and forced Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Luke O’Shea to make a tough save, O’Shea was making his season debut on Saturday after recovering from injury.
UBC Okanagan’s Cuthill was man of the match for UBC Okanagan made several impressive saves trying to give his team a chance.
In the first half UBC’s Milad Mehrabi had a well-taken free kick on the edge of the box that was impressively saved by UBC Okanagan’s Cuthill.
In the 59th minute, Heat goalkeeper Cuthill continued his impressive performance with a great save to Mehrabi’s low free kick, after a superb sidekick from UBC’s Mehrabi that just missed the wide open goal.
Six minutes later, the Thunderbirds finally beat Cuthill for an insurance marker as Niall Cousens tapped in an easy finish in front of the goal after receiving a short pass from Navid Mashinchi.
Down two Cuthill continued his outstanding evening with a great save to stop Boris Si from scoring on a half-volley in the 71st minute. Then in the dying moments, he turned aside a breakaway chance from T-Birds’ rookie Kyle Sohi.
With the win, UBC improves to 8-0-0 to start the 2014-15 season and will host Fraser Valley then play at Trinity Western next weekend (Oct 10-11).
UBC Okanagan (4-5-1) will get a bye. “We have a week off to work on a few things and get ready for the final weekend,” Zanatta says. The Heat currently sit in third place in the Pacific division, with the top four teams making the postseason.
UBC Okanagan has 13 points just one more the UFV and three more the Trinity who is currently in fifth. Trinity has played just seven games so far, Fraser Valley eight, compared to 10 for the Heat.
The final weekend, will see the final two conference games of the year and will be a home and away with Thompson Rivers. Saturday at 2 p.m. in Kamloops is the first game, Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.) the regular season closes out on the Nonis Turf in Kelowna.