Sameer Grewal’s goal in the 83rd minute was the difference as the Victoria Vikes sent the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team to its first loss of the Canada West regular season by a 2-1 score.
Playing at UVic’s Centennial Stadium on Friday evening, the Cascades had the lion’s share of possession, out-shooting the hosts 17-13 and earning eight corners to the Vikes’ four. But they only had a single goal to show for it – Justin Sekhon’s marker in the 63rd minute.
Victoria (1-2-0), meanwhile, got a first-half tally from Paulo Dait to pair with Grewal’s late strike, and fifth-year keeper Noah Pawlowski was often spectacular as the Vikes claimed their first win of the year.
UFV (2-1-0) will look to rebound on the road Saturday against the CIS No. 2-ranked UBC Thunderbirds (7 p.m., Thunderbird Stadium, webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv).
“It’s frustrating,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said, reflecting on Friday’s result. “We gave them two goals – we made two horrific mistakes, and when you do that, you put yourself in a position where you need to get three goals to win the game. We had the opportunities, but we weren’t able to finish, and that’s why we’re walking away empty-handed.”
The Cascades spent much of the first 20 minutes on Victoria’s side of the pitch, but were unable to generate a goal. The closest they came was off a James Najman run, but his pass across from the left was directed out of bounds by a Vikes defender just before it reached a teammate at the far post.
The hosts opened the scoring on a strange play in the 24th minute. Dait sent a cross into the box from a tight angle, and the ball went off the hands of Cascades keeper David Hicks and snuck inside the post.
The goal sparked the Vikes, and they followed up with some dangerous forays into UFV territory. The Cascades had a chance late in the half when substitute Elijah Sampson, moving to his left, fired a rising shot that went just wide of the post.
UFV had a strong start to the second half, and finally broke through when Sampson wrested a long ball away from Vikes defender and sent it across for Sekhon, who was all alone in front of Pawlowski and slotted home his second goal of the campaign.
Pawlowski, though, started the play that led to the winner. His long kick found Dait in stride, and he ventured into the box and sent it across to Grewal for the sliding finish inside the far post.
UFV pressed for the equalizer, and Connor MacMillan had a great look from close range in the dying minutes off a throw-in, but Pawlowski dove to his right to parry the rising shot.
Sampson and UVic defender Evan Libke were named their teams’ players of the game.
Lowndes expects his squad to bring a focused bounce-back effort against UBC.
“That’s the nice and not-so-nice thing about Canada West – the 24-hour turnaround,” he noted. “I’m confident we’ll come out and right a few wrongs from tonight.”