Morning Star Staff/UBCO Athletics
Provincial finalists for the past two PacWest women’s soccer seasons, the UBC Okanagan Heat will have one final crack at a title before they jump up to the CIS Canada West Conference in 2014.
The Heat, coached by Claire Paterson, kick off the season Saturday (1 p.m.) as they host the Vancouver Island University Mariners at Nonis Sports Field in Kelowna.
The Heat were second in the regular season last year at 7-1-6. They grounded the Quest Kermodes 4-1 in the semifinals before falling 1-0 to the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack in the championship game.
Paterson, entering her sixth season with the Heat, has a good mix of veterans and young players. Defender Jennifer Kidd is a four-time PacWest all-star, and will be joined by fellow fifth-year players Hayley Uyeyama (Kelowna) and midfielder Taylor Sarchet (Surrey).
Vernon’s Kirsten Dodds, a third-year striker, shared UBC Okanagan’s scoring lead with Delta’s Lindsey Briggs, each with four goals. Christine Tallon, a fourth-year keeper from Kamloops, will once again anchor the Heat defence.
Michelle Smith, who pocketed three goals last year, enters her third season in the Heat midfield.
The Mariners went 2-7-5 last year.
The Capilano University Blues of North Vancouver visit UBC Okanagan Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Blues finished in the PacWest cellar at 1-9-4.
The Heat men’s team will be looking to improve upon a disappointing 2-7-5 record starting Saturday afternoon (3 p.m.) against VIU, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee against the Blues.
VIU was the second-best team in Canada in 2012, but the Mariners have graduated a multitude of players, including first team all-stars Stephan Ewashko and Matt Mehrassa.
Like VIU, the Blues are a new-look team this year, welcoming seven first-year players.
The Heat will miss graduates Dustin Luck (Kelowna), Zach Donaldson-Hall (Kamloops) and Sean Causier (Port Moody), but head coach Dante Zanatta believes a quartet of third-year players – Donald Straith (Victoria), Jorden Leib (Bellingham, Wash.), Dylan Abbott (Salmon Arm), and Harrison Shrimpton (Vancouver) – are ready for larger roles.
Fulton grad Austin Jones, a midfielder who collected seven goals last season, is beginning his fourth year with the Heat. Coldstream’s Enzo Paal, a 6-foot-4 mid/forward, is entering his freshman year, and has amazing skill.
Meanwhile, the Thompson Rivers men’s team, featuring Enderby’s Corey Wallis, enters its final PacWest season having won their final two exhibition games.
The Pack swept the UNBC Timberwolves in preseason play last weekend, and will open the season Saturday at home against Capilano.
“Our expectations are quite high considering the team we have this year,” said Sean Wallace, who is co-coaching TRU with John Antulov.
“Our first goal is to make playoffs and then see what we can do from there. After winning bronze last year at provincials, we feel the returning players have the experience now to strive for a provincial title.”
Wallis recently helped North Enderby Timber win the North Okanagan Soccer League’s Gibson Cup title.