UFV Sports Friday – Soccer

Women’s Soccer: Levarsky’s four-goal outburst powers Cascades past Timberwolves

It was the Monika Levarsky show under the Friday night lights at MRC Sports Complex, as the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team defeated the UNBC Timberwolves 5-0.

Levarsky assisted on the Cascades’ first goal of the night, which came off the foot of Shayla Phipps, and it was the precursor to a scoring binge of her own. The third-year forward from Surrey, B.C. would go on to score four times to stake the hosts to an insurmountable lead before heading to the bench for the night in the 61st minute.

Desiree Caruso added a sixth UFV goal in the 88th minute, and Emily Harold picked up her second straight clean sheet as the Cascades improved to 5-1-2 in Canada West conference play. UNBC fell to 0-7-0.

Friday’s result enabled UFV to leapfrog the Alberta Pandas (4-1-2) for second place in the Pacific Division. The Pandas, coming off their first loss of the campaign on Friday by a 2-0 score at Trinity Western, visit MRC Sports Complex on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. tilt with the Cascades. UNBC, meanwhile, visits Trinity Western on Saturday in a 5 p.m. start.

“The girls really played assertively in the first half and put UNBC under a lot of pressure,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht noted. “I thought we could have been a lot tidier in finishing – we could have scored more in the first half. But we were able to make a lot of changes and got everybody at least half a game tonight, which is great. We saved some legs for tomorrow night, and gave girls a chance to play.

“I’m really happy with the girls, how hard they worked, and we got six goals, so it’s a good night.”

Levarsky, the Cascades’ top goal-scorer last season with seven, opened the regular season on a rare scoring drought, going goalless over the first six games. She got her first goal last Saturday in a 3-0 road win over Thompson Rivers, then broke through in a big way vs. UNBC.

“It feels good,” Levarsky said. “I was a little frustrated not scoring in the beginning, but I finally found my rhythm. I took my shots and took my opportunities.

“I really prepared mentally for this game, and made sure I came on my front foot and made an impact on the game, with myself and the players around me.”

Phipps and Levarsky combined to get the Cascades on the board in the sixth minute – Levarsky beat a UNBC defender down low and cut it back into the path of Phipps for the finish. It was the rookie’s second goal of the campaign, and Levarsky’s sixth assist, second-most in Canada West.

Levarsky made it 2-0 in the 21st minute, turning in the box and rifling a rising shot past UNBC keeper Liana Toopitsin. She got another four minutes later, taking a breakaway pass from Amanda Carruthers, working her way around Toopitsin and rolling the ball into the open net.

Levarsky stayed hot in the second half, completing the hat trick by hammering a shot that Toopitsin got her fingers on, but not enough of to keep out.

The T-Wolves’ best chance of the night came in the 61st minute when Julia Babicz hit the crossbar and Harold dove to smother Rhianne Ferdinandi’s follow-up effort. The Cascades took the ball the other way and Simi Lehal sprung Levarsky on a breakaway, and she slotted home a low shot into the corner.

Caruso rounded out the scoring on a 35-yard free kick.

“We’ll come out of this confident, but we know tomorrow’s going to be a battle,” Giesbrecht noted. “Alberta’s a good side – they nicked points off UBC and UVic last weekend, and they gave Trinity a good game tonight. . . . They’re going to be well-organized and tough to break down. We’ve got to make sure we play with an assertive mentality and take it to them.”

Men’s Soccer: T-Birds knock off Cascades in Abbotsford

The UBC Thunderbirds got goals from Zach Verhoven and Kerman Pannu to edge the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team 2-0 on Friday evening at MRC Sports Complex.

Verhoven scored in the 32nd minute, Pannu tallied in the 60th, and keeper Jason Roberts made three saves for the shutout as the Thunderbirds improved to 6-1-4, good for second place in the Pacific Division. The Cascades (3-5-1) are fourth.

Both teams are back in action on Saturday – UFV hosting the Victoria Vikes (8 p.m., MRC Sports Complex), and UBC visiting the Trinity Western Spartans (7:15 p.m.).

“I don’t think we necessarily deserved to lose 2-0 – you look at the first 30 minutes, I think we were the better team,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes reasoned. “We came out and passed it well and caused them some problems. Just kind of the way things have been going this season, they get a goal that hits our player in the back of the shoulder and goes top-corner. We’re not getting those little bounces, those little bits of luck right now.

“But I’m proud of the effort, the work rate. They worked their socks off, and if we can take that work rate and desire into the last seven games, I’m confident we’ll be where we want to be.”

Verhoven’s ice-breaking goal, indeed, did take a deflection on its way into the back of the net. On a broken play with the ball bouncing around the box, Verhoven took a crack at it and his shot went off UFV defender Sahib Phagura and into the top corner to the left of Cascades keeper Alex Skrzeta. Shortly thereafter, UBC captain Bryan Fong nearly doubled the visitors’ lead, but his header went off the post.

The Cascades had several chances early in the second half to equalize. First, Elijah Sampson caught up to a long, high-arcing pass and was bearing down on Roberts, but he lost his footing in the box while jockeying with a UBC defender. Later on, Daniel Davidson flicked a ball through to Michael Mobilio who set up Sampson for what appeared to be a clean look, but UBC’s Fong came from out of nowhere for a last-gasp tackle which may well have saved a goal.

That opened the door for Pannu to extend the T-Birds’ lead. He launched his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign from just outside the box, curling a shot into the top corner just beyond the reach of a diving Skrzeta.

In the 79th minute, UFV generated another batch of quality chances, but Roberts denied Davidson from close range and Connor MacMillan sent his follow-up effort over the crossbar.

UBC’s Titouan Chopin and UFV’s Justin Sekhon – who had a late header tipped over the bar by Roberts – were their teams’ respective players of the game.

“I think our attacking players were much, much better – night and day from the past two or three games,” said Lowndes, whose team has gone four straight games without a goal. “We caused problems, we looked like we were going to score. We’re just fighting it a little bit now to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s the difference between winning, losing or tying games. But we’ll come out tomorrow against UVic and go at it again. We’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep battling. We’ll never give up.”

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