KELOWNA, BC — The University of Regina Cougars defeated the UBC Okanagan Heat in women’s soccer competition Sunday afternoon at Nonis Sports Field in Kelowna.
In the final regular season game for both teams, the Heat were shut out by the Cougars by a final score of 1-0. The University of Regina side was playing for an improved playoff position, and with the win will move up into fourth place in Canada West’s Prairie division.
The only goal of the match came moments before the final whistle, when third year Cougars forward Brianna Wright netted her second of the season past third year Heat keeper Francesca Balleta, who replaced Serrano after half-time. Wright received a well-placed breakout pass from Shayla Kapila, and after Balleta stopped her first attempt with an aggressive sliding save, Wright was able to corral the rebound and chip it past a racing Heat defender and into the middle of the net.
With the 1-0 victory in their final game, the Regina Cougars moved up a spot in the divisional standings, passing the Mount Royal Cougars, who also won their final game of the season on Sunday, defeating the UNBC Timberwolves 3-0. Had MRU won and Regina lost, then Regina would have stayed in fifth in the Prarie division and faced MacEwan, who finished second in the division.
As for the Heat, there were no playoff implications in their final game of 2016, as they were already locked into the sixth place spot in the divisional playoff round.
The first half of Sunday’s match-up between the Heat and the Cougars saw no scoring, although both keepers were forced to make a number of saves. The best chance for UBC Okanagan came early in the contest, when first year midfielder Kylee Walker had an open shot after a long lead pass into the penalty area, but put her strike high and over the crossbar.
For the University of Regina, the best scoring opportunity of the opening 45 minutes came on a shot from fourth year midfielder Shayla Kapila in the 41st minute. Kapila put a good strike on net from just inside the penalty area, but first year Heat keeper Caralina Serrano made a diving save to her left to keep the ball out of the net.
In total, Serrano made four saves in the first half and fifth year Cougars keeper Kacey McFee made two, keeping the game scoreless at the break.
Aside from the goal, the best scoring chance for the Cougars came in the 61st minute, when second year midfielder Brigit Sinaga put a curling shot on a path for the top right corner before it was stopped with a spectacular leaping save by Balleta.
The best second-half chance for the Heat came in the 75th minute. Fourth year midfielder Andrea Stinson won the ball out of a scramble at the edge of the 18-yard box, and managed to sneak a shot through the crowd toward the bottom right corner. McFee made her most impressive save of the match on the play, diving to her left and just getting a hand on the ball.
Prior to the beginning of the game the Heat held their annual ceremony to honour members of the team who are graduating. The two Heat players recognized this year were fourth year defender Devon Fleming and fourth year midfielder Katie Smillie.
Smillie was also named UBC Okanagan’s MVP of the match, while Regina gave their match MVP award to third year midfielder Nikita Senko.
With the 2016 Canada West regular season finished, the next game for both the Heat and the Cougars will be in the playoffs. With the standings finalized, the UBC Okanagan Heat (Pacific 6) will play next when they travel to play the Trinity Western Spartans (Pacific 1) on Saturday, October 29. Game time is set for 4 p.m. PT at Chase Office Field in Langley.
The Heat and the Spartans last met on September 25 at Nonis Sports Field in Kelowna. The only game between the two teams this season was a 3-0 victory for Trinity Western. Since UBC Okanagan joined Canada West in 2014, they hold a record of 0-3-1 against the Spartans. The goal comparison over those four games is 14-4 in favour of the reigning national silver-medalists from Trinity Western.
The University of Regina Cougars (Prairie 4) will also play their next game on Saturday, when they will travel to Saskatoon to play the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (Prairie 3).