1DX 6221

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN), with files from Randy Wachtin (Victoria Highlanders)

May 2, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – It took a while for the Kamloops Heat to warm-up Saturday afternoon, thanks in part to the Hells Angels. Fortunately for the Victoria Highlanders FC, they were able to take advantage of that and escape with a 2-2 draw in the Highlanders Pacific Coast Soccer League home opener at Royal Athletic Park.

Kamloops’ Cole Hooper grimaces as he goes up for a header against Victoria’s Alex Redpath (6)(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The nearly 500 fans that were in attendance to see the new-look Highlanders had to wait for the opening kick-off, as the ferry that the Heat were travelling on from Vancouver was delayed 40 minutes because of a huge volume of traffic, notably a large contingent of Hells Angels motorcycle members who were travelling to Victoria to support the establishment of a new clubhouse in Langford.

1DX 6078
Victoria’s Emmanuel Gomez (left) plays keep away from the Heat’s Brett Nordin (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Heat, who straggled on to the field for an abbreviated warm-up almost 20 minutes after the scheduled 4:00 pm start time, clearly showed the effects of their travel delay and shortened pre-game preparation, as the Highlanders enjoyed a marked advantage in play in the opening half, keeping the ball in the Heat end for much of the time.

1DX 6162
Kamloops’ Peter Loncar (foreground) and Victoria’s Tarnvir Bhandal get entangled in their battle for the ball (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Unfortunately the Highlanders could not finish on any of their scoring chances until late in the half, in extra time in fact, when Domonic Colantonio side footed the ball across the face of the goal into the far side netting to give the Highlanders the 1-0 lead.

1DX 6205
Victoria’s Brian Im (left) and the Heat’s Nolan Wallace middle) battle for a loose ball while the Heat’s Peter Loncar (right) looks on (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The second half was a much different story however, as the Heat clearly refocused at the break and dominated early in the frame, scoring twice within a two minute span, at minutes 56 and 58, on goals by Peter Lonocar and Keenan Wallace to take a 2-1 lead.

1DX 6209
Victoria’s Tarnvir Bhandal (left) checks the Heat’s Andrew Rose (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After that the Heat dominated the ball control game for much of the half, but let their guard slip in the 80th minute when Mackenzie Cole, a U18 player in the former Highlanders youth program, sent six year Highlander veteran, Adam Ravenhill free on a diagonal through ball to the grandstand touchline. Ravenhill, sent a cross into the penalty area that was settled by striker Derek deGroot, who then buried it past Heat goaltender Lubo Magdolen from six yards away to make the score 2-2.

1DX 6331
Victoria’s first goal scorer Dominic Colantonio (left) tries to hold back the Heat’s Peter Loncar (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Highlander FC Head Coach, David Dew knows he has a little work ahead. “We took risks in areas where we shouldn’t and it cost us a couple of goals. We need to address that,” he said. “Despite that, I’m really pleased we were able to come back and tie the game.”

1DX 6342
Victoria’s Aaron Murphy goes on the attack in the second half Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It’s a quick turnaround for the Highlanders, as they host Abbotsford Magnusson Ford FC Sunday in a 12 noon kick off at Royal Athletic Park.

The Highlanders ladies also compete Sunday in the Senior Women’s A Cup Provincial Championship Semi-Final vs. North Shore Girls Soccer Club Renegades, in a 2:30pm kick off, immediately following the men’s game.

1DX 6348
Victoria’s Adam Almeida, bloody knee and all, would not get a shot away on this scoring attempt Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Four ticket game packages are available on-line at www.selectyourtickets.com or individual game tickets can be purchased at the gate, one hour prior to opening kick-off.