Men’s Soccer – Jhaj nets hat trick, grabs Canada West goal-scoring lead in 3-0 win over Cougars
A memorable performance by Gurmaan Jhaj powered the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team to an impressive road win over the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday afternoon in Calgary.
Jhaj, a fourth-year forward from Aldergrove, B.C., scored all three goals in a 3-0 triumph which boosted the Cascades’ record to 3-1-1 in Canada West play. Jhaj’s scoring spree also left him in sole possession of the conference goal-scoring lead with five – all of them coming in the past two games.
“He was magnificent today,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said of Jhaj. “He was quality, causing havoc for their defenders all day long. He got the ball in his feet and ran at them, and he was also willing to do the dirty work. It was just a really great performance.”
Jhaj wasted little time opening the scoring – in the fourth minute of play, he picked up the ball about 30 yards from goal, beat a pair of Cougars defenders, and slotted the ball home from inside the 18-yard box.
He doubled the Cascades’ lead in the 37th. Ryan Donald’s cross found Jhaj at the back post, and he controlled the ball with his chest before volleying it home.
Jhaj completed the hat trick in the 69th, making good on a penalty kick after Trevor Zanatta was hauled down in the box. Mount Royal fell to 2-3-0.
As critical as Jhaj’s scoring has been for the Cascades of late, the team’s defensive performance has been equally impressive. The UFV side has surrendered just two goals in its five Canada West games (with three clean sheets), leaving them tied with the UBC Thunderbirds for the fewest goals-against in the conference. It’s a marked contrast to last season, when the Cascades allowed 31 goals in 16 outings – fourth-most in CW.
“That was one of our big goals this season – we had to be better defensively,” Lowndes said. “It comes down to attitude, it comes down to work rate, it comes down to pride in not conceding goals. Our players are working as hard as they can to limit the other team’s chances, and when you do that, you’re going to stay in a lot of games and hopefully win games.
“We were rampant in the first 20 minutes today, and it was a good shift from the boys in a tough place to play. The boys were fantastic, right from the start to the end, every one of them.”
The Cascades wrap up their road swing with a stern test Sunday afternoon, taking on the U SPORTS No. 8-ranked Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton (1:15 p.m. Pacific / 2:15 p.m. Mountain, CanadaWest.tv).
Women’s Soccer: Bison rally to tie Cascades 2-2
The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team twice held the lead on Saturday evening, but the Manitoba Bisons twice mustered an equalizer to secure a 2-2 draw in Winnipeg.
Brittney Zacharuk and Tripat Sandhu scored in the first and second halves, respectively, for the visiting Cascades (0-2-2), with Nicole Davis and Amanda Wong replying for the Bisons (1-1-2).
Manitoba’s second goal came in controversial fashion in the 87th minute. On a partial breakaway for the Bisons, UFV goalkeeper Joven Sandhu came charging out and smothered the ball, with the fast-approaching Manitoba attacker falling over her. Much to the surprise and chagrin of the Cascades, the referee whistled Sandhu for a foul, and Wong stepped to the penalty spot and scored to deny UFV its first win of the campaign.
“I feel for my goalkeeper, because she did exactly what she is supposed to do,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said.
“I’m proud of my team. We’re facing adversity, and we’re not getting the results right now. But we put together a positive performance tonight – it’s something we can build on, and I’m excited to see how we respond.”
The Cascades, coming off a 2-2 draw against the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday, started brightly, with Zacharuk opening the scoring in the 16th minute. Rookie forward Jashan Sandhar got the play started, getting behind the Manitoba defence and driving along the end line before cutting the ball back to fourth-year captain Zacharuk for the easy finish.
The Bisons drew even just before halftime, as Davis rose to head in Holly Angus’s free kick.
The second half was fairly even to start, but the Cascades took over with about 20 minutes to go, earning a series of corner kicks. For the game, UFV held a decisive 8-1 edge in corners. Sophomore midfielder Tripat Sandhu made good on one of those, as Harneet Dadrao’s corner found her at the far post for the finish in the 86th minute.
But just over a minute later, the Bisons drew even after the whistle went against Cascades keeper Sandhu.
The Cascades return to Abbotsford for back-to-back games at MRC Sports Complex next weekend. They host the UNBC Timberwolves on Friday and the MacEwan Griffins on Saturday, both games kicking off at 5:30 p.m.