The UBC Okanagan men’s soccer team bolstered its chances of earning a playoff spot in its first ever Canada West season with a key victory Saturday night over the Fraser Valley.
After falling short the previous night against Trinity Western, the Heat rebounded for a hard fought 1-0 win against the Cascades in Abbotsford.
At 4-4, the Heat have a share of second spot in the conference with four games remaining in the regular season.
Second-year striker Enzo Paal slipped in his second goal of the season—11th career—five minutes into the match for the quick 1-0 lead that would stand through the final 85 minutes. Five-year veteran Austin Jones picked up Heat player of the game honours.
With the win, the Heat has leapfrogged into second seed in the division due to their sweep of UFV, though UVIC is also in the 12-point club with two games still in hand.
With the playoffs starting to loom more clearly overhead, the Heat are in serious position to clinch a top-four spot and earn a berth. However, head coach Dante Zanatta will not get too ahead of himself yet. “I’m not jinxing myself,” he laughed. “But it was very important to get the win (Saturday).
On Friday, Trinity Western scored a 2-1 victory over UBCO.
Andrew Stevenson connected for the Heat’s lone goal in the final minute of play.
Back on the road this weekend, the Heat will visit the Vikes Friday night, followed by a trip to Vancouver to see the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday.
The UBC Okanagan women are still looking for their first CIS victory after a pair of road losses on the weekend.
On Friday in Langley, Trinity Western scored twice in the first five minutes, then rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Heat. Courtney Hemmerling and Caitlin Murchie scored for the Heat, who narrowed the score to 3-2 early in the second half but could get no closer.
On Saturday in Abbotsford, the UFV Cascades prevailed 3-0 over the Heat, with all three goals coming in a 10-minute span early in the second half.
“We work really hard in the first half to keep teams off the score board and there seems to be a point when our legs start to go,” Heat coach Claire Paterson said of her team’s second-half struggles. “We will be taking a step back and reviewing our lineup to make sure we are utilizing our players to their strengths whether it is for five minutes or 90.”
The Heat (0-5-3) will be in Victoria on Friday, then in Vancouver on Saturday to meet the Thunderbirds.