Nathan Crosby, Sports Editor Ω
A penalty shot at the 86th minute sealed a thriller at Hillside Stadium with the WolfPack men’s soccer team winning 2-1 over the UBCO Heat.
Veteran defender Adam Dodgson kicked the eventual game-winner to the bottom left corner after a yellow card was issued to UBCO’s Manny Straith for obstruction against Dodgson. The call got a roaring cheer from the crowd at the men’s home opener on Sept. 17.
“The first 20 minutes of the second half wasn’t very good, but we made some changes,” WolfPack co-head coach John Antulov said.
After a slow start to the second half, Conor Doherty, Adam Dodgson and Scott Lively were substituted into the game and awoke the WolfPack offense.
“The guys that came in picked everything up and the last 20 minutes were really solid,” said Antulov.
The WolfPack controlled the first half by having a number of close chances.
UBCO’s veteran keeper Spencer Brown kept the game scoreless with a spectacular last-minute one-handed stop on Conor Doherty’s shot.
This gave the Heat the chance to attack, which they eventually did.
The visitors opened the scoring at the 60th minute with a two-on-one chance that left WolfPack keeper Travis Froehlich in an impossible situation. After committing to the ball-carrier he could not recover.
The goal was scored by former ‘Pack player, Zach Donaldson-Hall, who took an easy pass leaving Froehlich with no options.
“Travis played great, the goal wasn’t his fault.” Antulov said.
“The great thing is he is a rookie but he was organizing the back line, he was talking, he wasn’t afraid to come out for anything, he played super.”
All of sudden the WolfPack — who had to be in control of the game — had work to do.
“After they scored that goal, we didn’t shut off,” WolfPack third-year Braeden Burrows said.
“We knew we could still win the game and we proved that, we just kept pushing.”
First-year forward Oriol Raffas Torres was a spark plug in the second half, manoeuvring easily through the Heat’s defence.
After a number of close chances, he was rewarded with the tying goal after the ball tipped off WolfPack defender Brynden Swint’s head at the 75th minute and fell in front of Torres who pounded it home.
“I always trusted my team could do it,” Torres said.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m happy to be here and for my team, it’s great.”
For his steady play and leadership, the fifth-year Swint was named player of the game.
He and his team won’t have to wait long for another test against the Heat.
The WolfPack head to Kelowna on Sept. 24 for the rematch and can expect the Heat will be seeking redemption.
Co-head coaches John Antulov and Sean Wallace joined Wayne Girodat and James Byra and UBCO’ head coach, Dante Zanatta, in going shoeless on the sidelines to raise awareness for the “Right to Play” organization.
“Normally when you pretty much got a brand new team it takes a while for them to gel, but we are getting the results and we are seeing the guys work together,” Antulov said. “I think it’s come along a lot quicker than I thought it would happen.”