LETHBRIDGE, AB — In the inaugural match-up between the Lethbridge Pronghorns and UBC Okanagan Heat, the Heat’s Courtney Hemmerling was rewarded for her hard work with a goal in the final five minutes of the match to spoil the Pronghorns 2016 Canada West season and home opener and open up the season with a win for UBC Okanagan.
Nikki Furukawa scored for the Pronghorns, while Cassie Bratton and Courtney Hemmerling replied for the Heat.
This is the second straight season the Heat have opened up on the road and notched a win by a single goal. Last fall they left Winnipeg with a (1-0) victory over the Wesmen.
Heat assistant coach Carli Tingstad, in her first Canada West match as an assistant was pleased with the team and the way they fought back. “Coming back from being 1-0 down to win 2-1. Don’t think they have done that before. They stuck to our game model and played our systems.”
She added that there was “Some spectacular moments in possession and building up out of the back,” and confirmed that both goals were off of forwards pressuring the ball and examples of players executing that part of their defensive system well.
Pronghorns had the first good chance in the ninth minute but Kayla Blacquiere’s shot sailed just over the cross bar.
UBCO followed up the ‘Horns chance with two of their own. Ally Ferronato’s free kick from 25-yards out was turned away by ‘Horns keeper Paige Gattafoni, and Courtney Hemmerling broke free from ‘Horns defenders but curled her shot just wide of the far post.
The deadlock did not last for long, however, as Furukawa intercepted Joella Koblischke’s clearing attempt and made no mistake to put the ‘Horns up 1-0.
The chances continued at both ends of the field, Gattafoni made a solid save off of Heat’s Lauren Candelario and ‘Horns Blacquiere narrowly missed again.
In the 27th minute, the Heat would strike to bring the game back level. Gattafoni’s clearing attempt was blocked by a rushing Bratton and ricocheted passed the ‘Horns keeper and into the back of the net.
At the half, the ‘Horns held a 10-4 shot attempt advantage and a 5-3 shot on goal advantage but could not convert on their chances.
Early in the second half, the ‘Horns came narrowly close to regaining the lead with Lindsay Amatto breaking in alone but half-time substitute goalkeeper Chole Ainsworth slid out and got enough of the ball to throw Amatto’s timing off and she put the ball off the outside of the net.
The Heat gained their first lead in the 86th minute, nearly a carbon copy of the Heat’s first goal with Hemmmerling intercepting Gattafoni’s clearing pass and walking the ball into the net.
In injury time, Furukawa had a great chance from long range and on the ensuing corner kick Erica Augsten just missed the back post, but that would be as close as the ‘Horns would get.
Stats were fairly even across the board as the ‘Horns finished the game with 16 shot attempts and four corner kicks compared the Heat with nine shot attempts and six corners.
The ‘Horns remain at home tomorrow afternoon hosting the Thompson Rivers WolfPack to conclude the opening weekend of the season. Kick-off is set for noon at the University Community Stadium. The Heat will travel to Calgary to face the Dinos.
GAME NOTES: This was Bratton’s first conference goal and continues her strong preseason where she notched two in four games. Hemmerling has now six career goals in Canada West play…..Joella Koblischke got the start in goal for UBCO and Chloe Ainsworth got the win playing the second half….The Heat have never lost a Canada West opener and have never opened up at home. In three seasons UBCO is (2-0-1) with a 0-0 draw versus UNBC in 2014 – their first season in Canada West.