Abbotsford/Port Angeles/Kirkland – The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team continued its preseason preparations with a 2-1 homefield victory over the Northwest University Eagles on Sunday evening in Abbotsford.
A strong start powered the Cascades, as Simi Lehal and Sarah Parker found the net within the first 17 minutes of play. Rylee Rassier, in the 47th minute, responded for the visitors from Kirkland, Wash.
“They’re a good NAIA program – an athletic team that always gives us a good game,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said of the Eagles, ranked No. 20 in the NAIA national preseason poll. “I’m happy we could get everyone into the game today and give people a lot of minutes.
“As we move through the preseason, we’re trying to learn about our team and who fits well where, and striving towards getting match-fit and making sure we’re ready for our Canada West opener against UVic.”
Third-year forward Parker, working her way back after an injury absence, was instrumental on the opening goal, doing some great work along the end line to earn a corner for the Cascades. Tavia Jasper sent the ball in and found Lehal at the far post for the finish.
Shortly thereafter, Jashan Sandhar fed the ball to Bryana Buttar, and she played a penetrating pass to Parker who sent a shot from the edge of the box inside the far post. Andrea Perkovic sparkled in goal over the first 45 minutes as the Cascades took a 2-0 lead into the half.
Rassier got the Eagles back into the game with a great individual effort. She worked her way through the UFV defence and broke in alone on Joven Sandhu, who had come on at halftime in relief of Perkovic. Rassier’s rising shot found the net just beyond the fingertips of a diving Sandhu.
Afterward, Giesbrecht had plaudits for two UFV duos – rookie midfielders Buttar and Halle McCambley, and centre backs Jasper and Taylor Nekic.
“I thought we started really well, and Bryana and Halle controlled the midfield quite well in the first part of the game – it’s exciting to have two first-year players who play together that well,” he said. “The centre-back pairing of Tavia and Taylor looked solid and that’s something we’re really pleased about.”
The Cascades have four more preseason games remaining, all against NCAA Div. II opponents. They face the Western Washington Vikings (Aug. 23), Simon Fraser Clan (Aug. 26) and Seattle Pacific Falcons (Aug. 31) on the road, with a home date vs. the Concordia Cavaliers (Aug. 29).
The Canada West conference season is fast approaching – UFV opens with road games at the UVic Vikes (Sept. 6) and the UBC Thunderbirds (Sept. 7), and host their home openers the following weekend vs. the Manitoba Bisons (Sept. 13) and Winnipeg Wesmen (Sept. 14).
The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team posted a pair of wins and a pair of losses on a preseason road trip through Washington state.
The Cascades – gearing up for their Canada West regular-season opener on Friday, Aug. 23 at home vs. UBC – opened the jaunt with a pair of games on the campus of Evergreen State College in Olympia. They sustained a 2-1 loss to the host Evergreen State Geoducks on Wednesday, but bounced back for a 1-0 neutral-site triumph over Tacoma Community College on Thursday. Friday saw the UFV squad drop a 4-1 decision at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, and they wrapped up the journey with a 2-1 victory over Northwest University on Saturday in Kirkland.
“It was a positive trip,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes summarized. “Results aren’t the be-all and end-all in the preseason – we used the trip to try a variety of things out. We tried players in different positions, tried multiple formations, and evened the minutes out. From that standpoint, it was pleasing.”
EVERGREEN STATE 2, UFV 1
The Cascades started slowly, and the host Geoducks struck for a pair of goals in the first half. UFV was much better after the break, and Manpal Brar scored in the 63rd minute to cut the deficit in half. But despite carrying the play and outshooting Evergreen State 6-2 over the final 45 minutes, that’s as close as the Cascades would come.
UFV 1, TACOMA CC 0
Gurmaan Jhaj, a Canada West first team all-star last season, showed his quality to lift the UFV side to victory. Collecting a through ball, the fifth-year senior slotted a shot into the bottom corner for the lone goal of the game. The Cascades generated other quality chances, most notably sending Atle Koellmel in alone on the Tacoma keeper, but his shot hit the post. Goalkeepers Jackson Cowx, Joban Mander and Ethan Duggan shared the clean sheet.
PENINSULA COLLEGE 4, UFV 1
Lowndes started a youthful lineup at Peninsula College. They got off to a solid start, building an early 1-0 lead after David Parfett’s corner was directed into the net by a Pirates defender, but the hosts responded with a trio of goals to go up 3-1 at the half. The Cascades mounted a second-half push but were unable to finish their chances, and the Pirates rounded out the scoring on a penalty kick in the dying minutes.
UFV 2, NORTHWEST 1
The Cascades saved their best for last, turning in their “best game of the trip by far” in Lowndes’s estimation. Koellmel opened the scoring early in the 61st minute – rookie Liam Kelly whipped a ball in from out wide, Brady Weir dummied it, and Koellmel was there for the finish. Kelly got a goal of his own shortly thereafter, lifting a shot over the Eagles keeper on a breakaway. UFV owned an 18-8 edge in shots, and the hosts mustered their lone goal in the final minute of play.
The Cascades open the Canada West campaign on Friday vs. UBC (7 p.m., MRC Sports Complex), then hit the road for a Sunday tilt with the Victoria Vikes (2 p.m.). All Cascades regular-season and playoff games can be streamed at CanadaWest.tv.