Abbotsford/Oregon – The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team’s experience and skill shone through on a preseason road trip to Oregon.
The Cascades opened the jaunt with a 1-0 loss to the Portland State Vikings, a top NCAA Div. I squad, last Tuesday despite a solid team performance. But head coach Rob Giesbrecht’s squad bounced back to earn three straight victories – 3-2 in overtime vs. Corban University on Friday, 2-0 vs. Pacific University on Saturday, and 3-0 vs. Concordia University on Monday.
“Our preseason trip to Portland was an excellent opportunity for our team to come together and to test ourselves against good competition,” Giesbrecht enthused. “It was encouraging that our group improved throughout the trip and had our best performance in our last game.”
Friday’s game against Corban University, one of the top NAIA programs in the Pacific Northwest, was a roller-coaster affair. The Cascades took the lead on an early goal by sophomore striker Monika Levarsky, but Corban surged ahead on goals in the 24th and 60th minutes. UFV rookie midfielder Brittney Zacharuk knotted the score with her first university goal in the 74th, and Shelby Beck notched the OT winner from the penalty spot after a Corban defender was called for a hand ball.
Taking on NCAA Div. III Pacific University the next day, Giesbrecht balanced the playing time throughout his entire roster. Levarsky started the scoring and Tristan Corneil finished it, heading in a Sunayna Samra corner kick. The Cascades limited Pacific’s offensive chances, and keepers Emily Harold and Risa Venuto were rarely tested in goal.
Against NCAA Div. II Concordia, Beck did much of the damage, opening the scoring from 25 yards out and later converting a feed from Levarsky to make it 2-0. Amanda Carruthers put the game away by calmly finishing a breakaway, and Kayla Klim and Emily Harold shared the goalkeeping duties and earned the shutout.
“Our pace of play and organization against Concordia was excellent,” Giesbrecht said. “Our first-year players all performed exceptionally well and the returning players are showing they are hungry for success.”
The Canada West regular season is fast approaching, and the Cascades are aiming to build on a sparkling 2015 campaign which saw them earn the Canada West silver medal and finish fourth at CIS nationals in Quebec City. They open with a two-game homestand at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, taking on the Victoria Vikes on Friday, Sept. 11 (4 p.m. start) and the UBC T-Birds on Saturday, Sept. 12 (5 p.m.).