MSOC: TWolves battle back, but fall 2-1 to Heat in season opener

Men's Soccer
August 23, 2019

The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves dug themselves an early hole, and despite controlling the majority of play, fell 2-1 at the hands of the UBC Okanagan Heat to open the Canada West season, August 23rd in Kelowna, B.C.

The first ten minutes of the 2019 Timberwolves’ season were a period of time they would like to forget. Falling behind 2-nil to the UBC Okanagan Heat on goals by Tyler Dhillon and Sam McDonald, the young TWolves showed a short memory, putting the early setback behind them. For the next 35 minutes of the opening half, the game belonged to UNBC, including a pair of golden opportunities for forward Kensho Ando.

“A new season, and it happened fast. They came at us strong, and they finished well, so credit to them,” said Timberwolves veteran Jonah Smith. “We didn’t pack it in, though, and they didn’t get much in the way of chances after that. I thought we gave them a really good fight.”

In the 45th minute, Prince George product Anthony Preston made good on a free kick opportunity from inside 20 yards, drawing the visitors to within one going into halftime.

“That was really big for us. We had a ton of chances, with Gregor Smith making great runs, opening up space for Kensho and Owen (Stewart),” said Smith. So for Anthony to step up and finish like he did, heading into half really gave us a lift.”

Possession in the second half belonged to the Timberwolves, as they generated a number of chances in the first 25 minutes. The best of those came off the foot of Owen Stewart on a great ball from Ando, before Preston had a slicing opportunity that he headed on net.

With 11 minutes to go, TWolves forward Stu Rowlands received his second yellow card of the game on a tough call with the ball in the air, putting UNBC a man short. Steve Simonson’s squad was able to create some marginal opportunities, but found it hard to play through against a historically defensive side in the Heat.

“We knew what we had to do, but that was obviously unfortunate. Stu plays hard, and those were tough calls,” said Smith, postgame. “We didn’t drop our heads and we actually had a couple really good chances after that. It was a promising sign that no matter the situation or score, this group isn’t going to go away.”

When the final whistle blew, UBCO was able to hold on for a 2-1 victory, despite the Timberwolves outshooting the home side 17-11.

With the win, the Heat move to 1-0-0, while the TWolves fall to 0-1-0. The two teams will run it back tomorrow evening, Saturday, September 24th in Kelowna.

“We have to start better. We need to match their initial intensity and push,” said Smith. “Then, we earn the right to play. If we come with the right intensity and understanding of what this league is like, we will then be able to move the ball and play like we do.”