ABBOTSFORD, BC — A hot keeper who made a highlight reel save was too much for the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s soccer team to overcome as they fell (3-0) to the University of the Fraser Valley on Saturday evening.
UFV Goalkeeper David Hicks ensured the Cascades (2-0-0) would wrap up the weekend without conceding a goal, denying UBCO’s Hamish Walde on a penalty kick in the 65th minute.
The Heat lost on Friday night to Trinity Western by a score of (1-0) to drop both outings of the road trip their record now stands at (1-2-1) after two weeks of conference play.
“I don’t think the score was really indicative of the game,” Zanatta said following the match. “I thought we played better today than we did yesterday. I think we played our best tonight, [better than] in all of the preseason and our first two games.”
“I thought the team
took some good steps forward in a weekend that they didn’t get any points – but that’s football in Canada West.”
UBCO was coming off a strong opening weekend which saw them earn four of a possible six points at home against the UBC Thunderbirds and UVic Vikes, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Canada West preseason coaches poll. But the Heat’s road swing through the Fraser Valley wasn’t as bountiful to the standings.
The Cascades, coming off a 1-0 win over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in their conference opener on Friday, got goals from Gurmaan Jhaj, Justin Sekhon and Nate Trampleasure to complete a six-point weekend at their new home pitch, MRC Sports Complex.
Jhaj opened the scoring in the 19th minute on a free kick from just outside the Heat’s 18-yard box. He fired a low shot which found the bottom left corner, just out of the reach of UBCO keeper Christopher Cuthill.
Daniel Davidson, UFV’s goal-scorer in Friday’s win, had a golden opportunity to double the lead in the 56th minute. He came streaking down the right side to take a pass from Connor MacMillan, but his rising shot hammered the post.
Davidson was undeterred, and just over six minutes later, he threaded a long pass through the Heat defence to Justin Sekhon, who ran onto it and unleashed a shot into the bottom left corner.
Shortly thereafter, the Heat were poised to get on the scoreboard after a Cascades foul in the box. But Cascade keeper and Man of the Match for UFV Hicks was up to the task – he ranged to his right to get his hands on Walde’s attempt from the spot.
“Credit to them for being clinical around the goal, said Zanatta. “We missed a PK at 2-0 [the match] should have been 2-1. Anytime you miss a PK or the keeper makes a save– that hurts you.”
The missed penalty kick was truly a turning point in the contest.
“2-0 is a dangerous lead, and we let them back in on a bit of sloppy play off a thrown-in and a rash challenge,” Cascades coach Tom Lowndes said. “If that goal goes in, they get confidence and come back at us, and we’re in a little bit of trouble. Full credit – fantastic save, and it really allowed us to kick on and get that third goal, and really take control of the game.”
Hicks said he felt that Walde, being right-footed, would try to come across his body and aim for the bottom corner.
“I just went with my gut, and it worked out for me,” he said. “It’s always nice to get the PK save, but at the end of the day, the three points is what matters.”
Three minutes after Hicks’s big stop, UFV put the game away when MacMillan scampered into the box and slipped a pass to Trampleasure on his left. The rookie forward made no mistake, slotting the ball home for his first goal in Canada West play.
In the post game discussion with his team Zanatta talked about the fine line between getting points and not getting points and that today they were on the wrong side of that line. “Unfortunate that a game that the boys played extremely well in that they didn’t get any points out of it. However some of the young guys played extremely well over the weekend and I thought that some guys are coming out of their shell and they are developing,” finished Zanatta who will have an extra week of training before playing another league match.
UBC Okanagan is on a bye, and returns to action Sept. 17 at home vs. the Calgary Dinos.
Next weekend, UFV hits the road to take on Victoria on Friday and UBC on Saturday. 3 p.m. start time or watch the action on canadawest.tv.
GAME NOTES: The Cascades ended up out-shooting the Heat 17-8, including 12-6 in the second half. For the Heat Tait Cuthill got his first start in goal on the season. Freshman hero of the first weekend, Spencer Young, did not play either match on the road.