When the UNBC Timberwolves men's soccer team needed a goal to overcome the UBC-Okanagan Heat, Michael Henman decided to head 'er.
The UNBC striker rushed the UBC-O net when he saw the high pass coming down from teammate Hussein Behery hit the head of Heat midfielder Hamish Walde and bounce over goalie Nicolas Reitsma. With nobody between him and the empty net, Henman got his forehead on the ball for what stood as the gamewinner in a 2-1 victory Saturday in Kelowna.
The winner came at the 83:12 mark, 13 minutes after UNBC midfielder Alex Nielson, a Prince George Youth Soccer product, scored the first goal of his first U Sports Canada West career. Nielson picked up a lead pass and went wide, drawing the goalie Reitsma and a Heat defender and he tucked a low shot between the two of them into the net for the tying goal at 70:17.
"It was a bit windy and blustery and they scored on a weird bounce off of a corner kick and we just kept pushing a got better as the game went on and scored the two late goals," said T-wolves head coach Steve Simonson.
"(Nielson) came in and we threw him into a higher role than he's been in preseason, but he just latched on to a quick interchange between Gregor Smith and Michael Henman, they just pounced on a mistake and headed in through and he slotted it."
In the rematch, the Heat outshot the T-wolves 17-7 and five of those UBC-O shots were on goal. Rob Goodey made all but one of those saves. The other stop came in the dying seconds from defender Jonah Smith, who was standing on the goal line to cover the empty cage when Goodey got stranded trying to smother the ball away from Sam McDonald, looking for his third goal of the season.
McDonald staked the Heat to 1-0 lead 27 minutes in. He scored the winner in the season-opener Friday as the Heat beat the T-wolves by a 2-1 count.
"We made a couple early errors and within 10 minutes (the Heat scored) two goals and after that I thought we very good, creating a bunch of chances and good possession attacks and we clawed one back but not the second one we needed," said Simonson.
"They're a good solid defensive team and for us to show the resilience of going down early in the first game, we could have quit but we didn't, and in the second game, absolutely we could have quit but we didn't. It just shows a lot of early character."
The T-wolves will now prepare for the Fraser Valley Cascades, their opponents on Friday and Saturday nights at Masich Place Stadium. The Cascades started the season Friday at home in Abbotsford with a 2-0 loss to UBC. Fraser Valley went on to play Sunday afternoon in Victoria.
The UNBC women were in Port Angeles, Wash., playing preseason games over the weekend. They'll open their season on Thursday, Sept. 5 at Masich against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.