Abbotsford/Burnaby – Gurneet Dhaliwal had a breakout performance on behalf of the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team on Wednesday evening, powering the Cascades to a 2-1 exhibition victory over Simon Fraser University.
Dhaliwal, a rookie forward out of Surrey, B.C., scored in the 25th and 54th minutes to stake the CIS No. 4-ranked hosts to a 2-0 lead at Abbotsford Senior Secondary. Their NCAA Div. II foes cut the deficit in half on a Sophie D’Souza goal in the late going, but UFV hung on for the win.
“We saw today what a special attacking player she is,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said of Dhaliwal. “It’s hard to put into words what she brings in the attack – it’s just those little touches, those little movements she can do. She’s a very cunning player – she’s very difficult to mark, and she finds little pockets of space to be dangerous.”
The Cascades opened the game with a great scoring chance, but Clan keeper Priya Sandhu came charging out and narrowly beat UFV’s Danica Kump to a through ball.
At the other end of the pitch, SFU had a couple of great looks on a goalmouth scramble following a free kick, but saw one shot glance off the crossbar and another cleared off the line by Cascades defender Dayle Jeras. Later on, UFV keeper Kayla Klim had to be sharp to tip Christina Dickson’s rising shot over the bar.
Dhaliwal notched her first goal as a Cascade off a Tristan Corneil corner, soaring to head the ball home.
She made it 2-0 after halftime with a deft finish off a cross from fellow rookie Brittany Zacharuk.
The Clan didn’t have many clean looks at goal after halftime, but D’Souza snuck one past Cascades backup keeper Emily Harold in the 79th minute. Krystiana Corrado picked up the assist.
“I thought the girls did well,” Giesbrecht summarized. “It was good that we got everybody in, and we got to rest a few players as well, which was important.
“I think there’s a lot of goals ahead for Gurneet. I was really happy with Brittney Zacharuk today, too. I thought she was fantastic on the ball. Tristan and Dayle had very strong games for us in the back, and Harman Billen played great in the midfield.”
Wednesday’s game marked the end of the Cascades’ preseason schedule. They open the Canada West regular season with a two-game homestand at Abby Senior next week, taking on the Victoria Vikes on Friday, Sept. 11 (4 p.m. start) and the CIS No. 9-ranked UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday, Sept. 12 (5 p.m.).