Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information
KELOWNA, B.C. - It was an impressive opening week performance by the UBC Okanagan men's soccer team as they took down the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 1-0 on Tuesday afternoon on the Nonis Sports Field.
In only his second career U SPORTS start, Nicholas Reitsma would save all five shots he faced for his first career Canada West clean sheet. Striker Luke Warkentin would net the only goal in the game in the 20th minute and that would be enough to capture all three points.
The Heat would build momentum from the opening kickoff as they would have the possession advantage throughout the opening 45 minutes. The first real chance didn't come until the 20th minute when Luke Warkentin found himself wide open just outside the six yard box off after a rebound from UFV keeper Alex Skrzeta and Warkentin made no mistake slotting it into the bottom corner.
Second year Taylor Piche beat his man and carried the ball to the top of the box, a strong right foot shot that was originally saved bounced back to Piche who passed it on to Warkentin for the assist.
The Cascades would step up their game in the second half putting up eight shots to the Heat's six for the match, forcing Reitsma to make three saves in the second half. The visitors best chance came in injury time when Brady Weir's free kick from just outside the box rattled around in the penalty area but the Heat were able to clear and capture their first win of the Canada West season.
Signs of things to come:
The four points the Heat have picked up during the first weekend of play ties the best start in the programs Canada West history, matching the feat in 2016-17. The strong opening weekend will look to help the team return to the postseason following last year's absence.
Opening appearances of the season:
After missing out on Monday afternoon's match, all-star defender Hamish Walde was back in the lineup against the Cascades and his centre-back partnership with Shaun Pilcher helped the Heat get the clean sheet.
Also making his first appearance of the season was second year midfielder Jimmy Steel, who would get the start in the center of the park with Nikhil Reddy. Pilcher was selected as the MVP for UBCO.
The Heat will now turn their attention to a home-and-home series with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. Friday's night match will be in Kamloops at 7 p.m. PDT, while the return match goes Sunday afternoon in Kelowna, on the Nonis Turf Field, at 3 p.m. PDT. These matches will also be the first to count towards the Presidents' cup trophy.
The Cascades will host preseason No. 1 UBC Thunderbirds this Friday night before hosting the Victoria Vikes on Sunday. Friday night's match will get underway at 6:30 p.m. PDT in Abbotsford.