Without a loss between them yet this year, the Heat men and women look to set a playoff-bound pace early on in 2017
With neither the men’s or women’s side taking a loss in any of their scheduled matches prior to kicking off the 2017 Canada West seasons, the UBCO Heat soccer program seems to be rolling with the same stride that took both teams to the playoffs last year.
The Heat women defeated the Coquitlam Metro-Ford Club, a Heat alumni side, and Langara College, and played to a scoreless draw against Lethbridge to finish without a loss prior to regular season play. The men’s side also defeated Langara college and shut out Douglas College 2-0 in their only two recorded results from preseason play.
While those contests are not at the level of Canada West competition, starting to win early and just one goal allowed between the two Heat sides indicates that Okanagan soccer is ready to move further up the Canada West ladder.
After getting bounced in the first round of last year’s Canada West playoffs in a 1-0 loss to the national champion Alberta Golden Bears, the Heat men will be fighting to take a step further this year. An integral part of that effort will be keeper Mitch McCaw, whose exceptional 2016 campaign made him the first UBC Okanagan soccer player to be named a Canada West First Team All Star. Ahead of this season, the Heat also added a pair of Team BC players, defender Sam MacDonald and forward Aaron Mulama, to help continue the program’s rise. MacDonald and Mulama are just two of ten new faces on the Heat men’s side, compared to just five players in their fourth of fifth year of eligibility, signaling that this could be the first of many seasons of growth and improvement for the young side.
“Just one goal allowed between the two Heat sides indicates that Okanagan soccer is ready to move further up the Canada West ladder.”
The Heat men get their 2017 season underway with a pair of matches at home over the Labour Day long weekend. They host the UBC Thunderbirds in the first match of the season on Saturday, September 2, and face the Victoria Vikes on Sunday, September 3.
The Heat women were also knocked out in the first round of last season’s Canada West playoffs, falling 3-0 to the Trinity Western Spartans. The loss of last season’s leading scorer Courtney Hemmerling may put a dent in the Heat’s scoring, but Maya Bandy and Maddy Laranjo will be returning for their sophomore seasons after tying for second in scoring last year.
The 2017 Canada West campaign will see the Heat women on the road for their first four matches. They will kick off the season at MacEwan University on Friday, September 8. They will visit UNBC, University of Regina, and the University of Saskatchewan before returning to Nonis Field for their first home match of the year against the Victoria Vikes on Saturday, September 23.
If the Heat sides can carry their preseason pace and scoring into the opening weekends of this season, that momentum may well put them in a position to take another step onto the Canada West playoff pitch.