UFV Soccer Weekend Preview – Cascades Hit The Road

The University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams look to be road warriors this weekend as they embark on out-of-province road trips.

MSOC: Cascades look to continue strong start on Alberta trip

Saturday, Sept. 15: Cascades (2-1-1, 2nd in Pacific Division) at Mount Royal Cougars (2-2-0, 3rd in Prairie Division), 1:30 p.m. MDT

Sunday, Sept. 16: Cascades at No. 8 Alberta Golden Bears (5-0-0, 1st in Prairie Division), 2:15 p.m. MDT

Webcast: CanadaWest.tv (Sunday game only)

The Cascades men’s soccer team is well-rested coming off its bye week, and riding a wave of confidence after posting impressive results their last time out (tying UBC 1-1 on Aug. 31, and defeating UVic 4-0 on Sept. 2). They’ll have their work cut out for them on a two-game swing through Calgary and Edmonton.

“It’s always a tough trip,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes acknowledged. “We’ll be playing two quality teams, and we’ve got to deal with the travel and a variety of different things. But I think we have the capability to get there and gets some positive results.

“Mount Royal are an athletic team, very dynamic. They’ll look to break us down, and it’ll be up to us to be solid defensively and create opportunities of our own. Then Alberta, they’re a quality program, a national powerhouse. They’ve had a great start to the season, and they’ve got an excellent team. It’ll be up to us to stifle them and frustrate them. You’ve just got to try to contain him. We’ve got to be solid in our shape and defend as a unit, and put in a 90-minute performance defensively just like we did against UBC. If we can do that, we give ourselves a chance to have success.”

Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year forward Gurmaan Jhaj is coming off a pair of massive performances vs. UBC and UVic. Against the Thunderbirds, the Aldergrove, B.C. product drew the foul that led to Brady Weir’s successful penalty kick to account for UFV’s lone goal of the game. Against the Vikes, Jhaj scored twice and added an assist in the team’s most prolific offensive output in nearly two years. The Cougars and Golden Bears, meanwhile, counter with dynamic offensive threats of their own. Mount Royal freshman forward Moe El Gandour has made an early impact – he’s tied for fourth in the conference with five points (two goals, three assists). Alberta, national champs in 2016, boast one of the most dangerous attacking players in conference history in forward Ajeej Sarkaria. He ranks fourth all-time in Canada West in total points (48), sixth in goals (30) and sixth in assists (18), despite being in just his third year of eligibility. Sarkaria has six points (three goals, three assists) thus far this season.

WSOC: Cascades seek first wins of season in Manitoba capital

Friday, Sept. 14: Cascades (0-2-0, 8th in Pacific Division) at Winnipeg Wesmen (0-1-1, 7th in Prairie Division), 7 p.m. CDT

Saturday, Sept. 15: Cascades at Manitoba Bisons (1-0-1, 2nd in Prairie Division), 6 p.m. CDT

This weekend’s trip is the Cascades’ longest (by distance traveled) in Canada West competition, and under the current schedule format, it’s one they make only every four years. But despite the relative rarity of this specific jaunt, UFV bench boss Rob Giesbrecht feels his squad is well-prepared for the rigours of travel.

“We’ve traveled that far in the preseason and played, and that’s why we do preseason trips – to teach our girls how to travel and compete,” noted Giesbrecht, whose team went to San Diego in August for exhibition games. “Our group is hungry after a frustrating weekend (losses to UBC and UVic). We know we didn’t play our best, and we intend to apply what we’ve learned.

“Winnipeg is an aggressive team that loves to attack, and they’ll present a challenge, as will Manitoba, who proved last year at nationals that they can get results against good teams.”

Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year forward Gurneet Dhaliwal was a tireless, dynamic presence for her squad last weekend as UFV opened its Canada West schedule. Against UBC, the Surrey, B.C. product was hauled down in the box after a dangerous run, setting the table for Brittney Zacharuk to score the team’s first goal of the season on a PK. The next day vs. UVic, she scored the Cascades’ lone goal of the match, defly deflecting home a cross from Jashan Sandhar. Looking to slow Dhaliwal on Friday will be Wesmen captain Amy Clayton, a third-year veteran who leads Winnipeg’s backline. Manitoba, meanwhile, will look to fifth-year Brazilian forward Bruna Mavingnier to lead their offence. She registered a goal and an assist last weekend as the Bisons earned results vs. the Regina Cougars (2-1 win) and Saskatchewan Huskies (2-2 draw).

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