VANCOUVER, BC – UBC Okanagan were unable to hang on as the UBC Thunderbirds men’s soccer team defeated the Heat 2-1 with a last-minute goal on Saturday night at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, in Canada West regular season play.
UBC escaped with the win late in stoppage time when first-year midfielder Kerman Pannu retrieved a rebound from the Heat goalie Tait Cuthill and pelted it into the lower left-hand corner. Pannu was subbed into the game in the 78th minute as one of head coach Mike Mosher’s attempts to spark the lackluster Thunderbirds in the second half.
Gagan Dosanjh and Kerman Pannu recorded goals for UBC with Luke Warkentin finding the net for UBC Okanagan.
Both teams went head to head for the full ninety minutes with the Heat nearly coming away with their second straight draw on the road, and their first points ever off of the T-Birds only to be disheartened seconds before the whistle blew by Pannu’s game winning goal.
In 2014-15, UBC Okanagan’s first year in Canada West and first year as a conference foe with the Thunderbird’s, the Heat squared off against men from Vancouver three time, twice in the regular season and in the postseason in a single game series. In those three matches the Heat were outscored 9-0. In every match last years versus UBC their Okanagan counterpart fared better and felt the Canada West quarter-final was close to going the way of the Heat.
Looking for some redemption and respect against the fourth ranked squad in the country UBC Okanagan it was rookie Luke Warkentin, a native of Surrey, BC, who opened the scoring against the ‘Birds in the match and the first conference goal scored by the Heat against UBC. Warkentin kicked the ball loose from to net the Heat’s only tally of the night. Thunderbird goaltender Chad Bush came out to meet a Heat attacker, foiled his shot on goal, but lost control of the ball when Warkentin jumped over him, evening the score (1-1) in the 51st minute.
The ‘Birds were quick to take the lead, when Dosanjh took control of the game, splitting through UBC Okanagan’s defence and firing a shot in the bottom right corner. The goal was the fifth-year player’s third of the season. Dosanjh had three more shots in the first half, including two rockets that sailed wide to the right.
Thunderbird goaltender Chad Bush helped UBC keep the lead in the first. His performance was highlighted by a save on the Heat’s first big chance in the sixth minute, when Heat midfielder Manny Straith beat his way through the barrage of T-Birds crowding the 18-yard box only to be thwarted by the diving newcomer. Bush continued to make saves, including bold ones, robbing Heat midfielder Cole Kingzett twice at point-blank range.
UBC totaled 18 shots with seven shots on net throughout the game, whereas UBC Okanagan tallied four shots, all of which were on goal.
With the victory, UBC maintains is position in second in the Canada West’s Pacific Division and is now 6-1-3 overall and 4-0-1 in conference. The Thunderbirds will travel to Prince George next weekend for games against UNBC on Saturday, October 3, and Sunday, October 4, both at 2:15 p.m. PT.
The loss doesn’t cost UBC Okanagan in the standings, they are still in fifth place just two points behind Trinity Western with a (1-3-1) record. Up next for the Heat will see the Kelowna squad continue their expedition on the road next weekend (Oct. 2-3) facing first on Friday the UFV Cascades at Exhibition Field in Chilliwack at 4 p.m. On Saturday UBC Okanagan will journey to Langley to play Trinity Western at 7:15 p.m. at Rogers Park.
~ With notes from Rachel Villari // Thunderbirds Communications