UFV Sports Sunday – Soggy Soccer For The Men, Golf Still #1

Men’s Soccer: No. 8-ranked Bears rally to edge Cascades 3-2

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The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team had the Alberta Golden Bears on the ropes on Sunday afternoon, but the nation’s No. 8-ranked team managed to get up off the mat.

On a cold, rainy day at Foote Field in Edmonton, the Cascades built a 2-0 lead on goals from Trevor Zanatta and Gurmaan Jhaj.

But the undefeated Bears (6-0-1) mounted a rally, getting goals from Matthew Miki and Easton Ongaro to draw even prior to halftime. They got the winner in the 81st minute when Ajeej Sarkaria’s corner kick found its way into the net, dropping UFV to 3-2-1 in Canada West play.

“Nothing but proud of my players’ effort, their attitude, and the way that they played,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward.

“We’ve gone punch for punch with one of the top teams in the country for 90 minutes, and we just ran out of gas a bit at the end.”

The Cascades broke the ice in the 17th minute, as rookie midfielder Zanatta notched his first career Canada West goal. Brady Weir swung a corner kick into the box, and Anthony Vega got his head on it at the far post and sent it back across for Zanatta, who nodded it home.

Jhaj doubled the Cascades’ lead in highlight-reel fashion in the 33rd minute. The fourth-year forward spotted Bears keeper Connor James off his line and launched a missile from the 41-yard line. It was a flawless strike, arcing just over the fingertips of James and under the crossbar.

Jhaj’s sixth goal of the season gives him a share of the Canada West goal-scoring lead with UBC’s Caleb Clarke, and his eight points are also tied for tops in the conference with Clarke and Alberta’s Ongaro.

“Great strike,” said Lowndes, marveling at Jhaj’s latest goal. “He pinged a good one – it was Beckham-esque in the way that he did it. Also very pleased for Trevor Zanatta to get his first goal for us.”

The Bears stymied UFV’s momentum in short order, though. In the 36th, Ongaro launched a shot from the right wing that Cascades keeper David Hicks stopped, but Miki was there to clean up the rebound.

Then, in first-half injury time, Ongaro netted the equalizer, chasing down Noah Cunningham’s cross along the end line, venturing toward the goal, and slotting a shot past Hicks. The Cascades felt Ongaro had been offside on the play, but the officials didn’t see it that way, and the two teams went to the locker rooms knotted at 2-2.

The Bears continued to press in the second half, but Hicks stood tall, making a series of outstanding stops to keep the score level. Most notably, he stoned Sarkaria on a penalty kick in the 80th minute, diving to his right to parry the Alberta forward’s low drive.

But on the ensuing corner, the Bears found the go-ahead goal. The ball from Sarkaria swung in on goal, and Hicks tried to punch it away. But the ball went off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

“For us to come to one of the top teams in the nation with such a young squad and make them work that hard to beat us, there’s nothing but good things to come for this group,” Lowndes said.

The Cascades return home to host the Saskatchewan Huskies next Friday (8 p.m., MRC Sports Complex).

Men’s GOLF: No. 1-ranked Cascades cruise to victory at UBC Okanagan Invitational

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s golf team continued its early-season roll, crushing the field at the UBC Okanagan Invitational in Kelowna on the weekend.

Playing at Okanagan Golf Club, the Cascades finished with a two-day total of 568 – 17 strokes better than the runners-up, the host UBC Okanagan Heat (585).

Individually, Wyatt Brook of the Vancouver Island University Mariners took first place, opening a four-stroke lead after firing a 64 on Saturday and hanging on after carding a 72 on Sunday. But Cascades golfers finished second, third and fourth overall: Daniel Campbell (68-70=138), Kyle Claggett (71-68-139) and Zach Olson (71-69=140) led the charge for the team champs. UFV’s Cody Stewart (77-74=151) tied for 12th, while Ben Whiton (81-78=159) tied for 23rd.

Victories have been standard fare for this core group of Cascades, which won the PACWEST, CCAA, and Canadian University/College titles last season, and won the 2018-19 season-opening Langara Invitational last week. But their degree of difficulty was a bit higher this week – they were unable to play a practice round at Okanagan Golf Club due to the fact they were hosting the Nick Taylor Charity Pro-Am last Thursday and Friday.

But in the end, it mattered little for the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association.

“The team played really well,” noted head coach Chris Bertram, whose squad is on a five-tournament win streak in PACWEST play dating back to last season. “We drove in a little bit last-minute, but fortunately all our players knew the golf course. We got in a good work session Saturday morning, and it seemed to pay off.

“We played a solid round on Saturday, but on Sunday we played exceptionally well. Some bad weather blew in on the last few holes on Sunday, but we were able to close it out.”

The Cascades are off this week, before returning to action Sept. 29-30 as they host the UFV Invitational at Chilliwack Golf Club.

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