With two games remaining, Nikhil Reddy and the UBC Okanagan Heat men are vying for a Canada West playoff spot                                -Image: Greystoke Photography

With two games remaining, Nikhil Reddy and the UBC Okanagan Heat men are vying for a Canada West playoff spot -Image: Greystoke Photography

Heat hosts ‘Pack Thursday at UBCO

Coming off losses to UBC and UVic, the Heat men’s soccer team looks to clinch playoff spot

The UBC Okanagan Heat will continue their push for a Canada West playoff berth Thursday when they host Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack at Nonis Field.

Kick off for the Heat’s final home game of the regular season is 5 p.m.

The Heat and Wolfpack will meet again Saturday in Kamloops to close out the regular campaign.

UBCO (5-5-3) currently sits in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division of the Canada West conference. Because of an unbalanced schedule, playoff spots are awarded based on winning percentage. The Heat has the edge on fifth-place Victoria .462 to .410.

The Vikes defeated the visiting Heat 1-0 on Friday night at Centennial Stadium in Victoria.

Austin Schneebeli scored the game’s lone goal in the 75th minute, ending keeper Mitch McCaw’s 685 minute-long shutout streak in UBCO net.

On a rainy Saturday, the Heat travelled to Vancouver to take on the Thunderbirds and once again absorbed a 1-0 setback.

A goal at the 60th minute was all the scoring UBC would need, as Zach Verhoven gathered in the pass, made one small move, put the ball on his right foot and hit the top left corner leaving McCaw with no chance to get a hand on the laser.

While the Thunderbirds generated a ton of pressure going forward, the Heat’s defense impressively absorbed much of the T-Birds attack.

The 53rd minute showcased UBCO’s defensive finesse when keeper Mitch McCaw parried away a great chance by Thunderbirds’ Patrick Izett. A goal line clearance and another McCaw save kept the game at a draw for the time being. McCaw had an impressive night finishing with five saves on six shots faced.

“We’re good defensively and we battled, but we need to get better going forward,” said UBCO head coach Dante Zanatta. “We still kind of control our destiny in the fact that if we get some results we’re OK.”

First win for Heat women

The UBC Okanagan women collected their first victory of the Canada West season, defeating the Lethbridge Pronghorns 1-0 at Nonis Field. Heat keeper Francesca Balletta earned her second career shutout in the win.

In the 28th minute, Lauren Candelario put a lead pass onto the foot of Kylie Walker, who made a nice move to skip around Lethbridge’s sliding keeper and place the ball into the bottom right corner, giving the Heat women their first lead of the season.

Balletta was composed throughout the game in her second shutout for the Heat, stopping all six shots on goal by the Pronghorns in the match.

A day earlier, the Heat women fell at home 3-1 to the Calgary Dinos. The Dinos received a pair of goals from Kelsie MacDonald to take down the home team.

The Heat’s lone marker came in the 50th minute from third-year defender Ally Ferranto who connected for her second of the season on a free kick from 30 yards out.

The UBC Okanagan Heat (1-9-2) will close out the season this coming weekend at home, hosting the MacEwan Griffins (7-4-1) on Saturday at 11 a.m. and the UNBC Timberwolves (3-7-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m.