Fraser Valley – On the heels of Canada est and U Sports cancelling university national championships, that does not mean that the sports calendar is empty.
Women’s Soccer: Cascades fall to Spartans in non-conference opener
The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team played its long-awaited 2020 fall opener on Friday evening, dropping a 3-0 decision to local rival Trinity Western on the road.
With COVID-19 having wiped out their Canada West conference season, the Cascades have joined the Spartans, UBC Thunderbirds and Whitecaps FC Girls Elite in a four-team cohort, and have seven exhibition games scheduled this fall.
With the stands empty at TWU’s Chase Office Field on Friday – no fans were admitted as part of COVID-19 mitigation protocols – the host Spartans got goals from Sierra Halldorson, Kathryn Harvey and Elizabeth Hicks. The Cascades, meanwhile, generated some good looks at goal, only to be turned aside by TWU goalkeeper Hannah Miller.
“I think every single player was extremely excited,” said Niko Marcina, who coached his first game as the Cascades’ interim head coach. “I think we were collectively anxious, but we were also loving the fact that we were back together again. We’ve created this family first atmosphere that every single player has invested and bought into, so the fact that we could just come to the field together as one meant the world, not only to myself but to the players.
“It was bittersweet. It was fantastic that we got to compete. The result is what it is – we played against a top team in Canada.”
Veteran goalkeeper Joven Sandhu sparkled for the Cascades in the first half, but Halldorson got the Spartans on the board in the 25th minute, running onto a through ball and slotting a shot into the bottom corner to Sandhu’s left.
UFV had a great chance to equalize late in the half, as rookie Jasdeep Dhaliwal dashed in from the left and squared the ball to Sarah Parker, but her rising shot was tipped over the bar by Miller.
Miller was called upon again early in the second half – UFV’s Jenna Mele slipped a pass to Simi Lehal, who turned and fired, but the TWU goalkeeper dove to her right to get a palm on the ball and push it outside the post. Off the ensuing corner, the ball came to Brittany Costa at the left edge of the box, and her blast went over the outstretched fingertips of a leaping Miller but just over the bar.
Shortly thereafter, Harvey gave the Spartans some breathing room with a great individual effort – her high-arcing strike from the left wing found the twine at the far post behind Cascades keeper Kareena Sahota, who had come on at the half. Five minutes later, Hicks made it 3-0 off a set piece.
Afterward, Marcina noted that Sandhu played “probably the best I’ve seen her play” as a Cascade, and also lauded the performances of centre backs Taylor Nekic and Alanna Sydenham, Brittany Costa in the central midfield, and Jessica Fennell at fullback.
“I couldn’t have been more proud after today’s performance,” he said. “Collectively, they were trying their best to play a different brand of soccer than they’d been used to in the past, and they ticked all the boxes. It just came to the point where fatigue kicked in, and we just couldn’t keep up. But overall, we’re all walking away with our heads held high.”
Costa said that the opportunity for game-play “meant a lot to our entire team.”
“We’ve been training in pods, and yesterday was our first day back together,” she noted. “So playing a game within 24 hours of that, it felt like a brand-new team almost because we’d been separated for so long. It felt like we’d overcome so much adversity as a team, and played a really good first game.
“We’re adapting to a new playing style, and I think we took that and implemented exactly what the coaches wanted. So from that aspect, I think it was a really good performance.”
The Cascades are back in action next Saturday, Oct. 24, on the road at UBC.
GOLF: Cascades make headway at BC Rivalry Series stops in the Valley
The BC Rivalry Series made its first stops in the Fraser Valley this week, and the UFV Cascades golf teams turned in a series of strong performances.
On Wednesday, the Cascades hosted Tournament No. 3 on the series at Sandpiper Golf Course in Harrison Mills, and on Thursday, the scene shifted to the Canal course at Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey for Tournament No. 4.
The Cascades men’s team turned in a dominant performance on Wednesday at Sandpiper. Amidst rainy conditions that depressed scores across the board, the UFV squad posted a combined score of six over par to easily outdistance the UBC Thunderbirds (+17) and UBC Okanagan Heat (+19).
Jackson Jacob was the top Cascade, firing a four-under 68 to finish second individually to UBC’s Keith Ng (67). Kyle Claggett and Ben Whiton were part of a four-way tie for fourth at 75, and Jacob Armstrong and Eli Greene were T-9th at 76.
On Thursday at Northview, UBC Okanagan came through with a scorching team score of -7 to pick up their first team victory of the series, edging the Cascades (-4) with UBC finishing third (+1). UFV’s Jacob once again finished solo second with a five-under 67, one stroke back of UBCO’s Nik Federko. Greene (71) tied for fourth, and Whiton (72), Claggett (74) and Armstrong (75) rounded out the UFV scores.
Through four events, UFV leads the team standings with 10 points, ahead of UBC (8) and UBCO (6). The Thunderbirds’ Ethan de Graaf leads the individual order of merit with 272.5 points, but three Cascades are lurking in the top five: Claggett (second, 253.3 points), Jacob (third, 234) and Greene (fifth, 230.8).
“It was a really good week for us,” Cascades men’s head coach Aaron Pauls enthused. “We talk a lot about playing for more than one day – we want to be a team that’s very hard to beat over two, three, four days. If you look at the first four tournaments as two-day events, we’d have won both. We just got beat on the second day this week, which happens. It was a good couple days for us.
“Jackson has all the talent in the world, he’s just figuring out a bit better way to play the game. Ever since we’ve come back from Kelowna, he’s been a force for us, and I expect that to keep going.”
On the women’s side, the Cascades earned their best result of the series on Wednesday at Sandpiper – their combined score of +25 was good for second place, trailing UBC (+20) and ahead of UBCO (+26).
Emery Bardock led the way for the Cascades, shooting 79 to tie for third. Lucy Park shot 80 to finish solo sixth, followed by Alex Brunner (82) and Avery Biggar (96). UBC’s Shania Remandaban and Cecile Kwon tied for the individual title at 76.
On Thursday at Northview, the UFV women’s squad finished third at +23, trailing UBCO (+14) and UBC (+18). Bardock again paced the Cascades – her round of 78 was good for T-4th. Brunner (79, T-6th), Park (82, T-10th) and Biggar (90, 12th) rounded out the UFV scores. UBCO’s Kayleigh Trowman (74) picked up her second individual win of the series.
In the women’s team standings, UBC (11 points) leads UBCO (8) and UFV (5). The Heat’s Trowman (320 points) boasts a comfortable lead in the individual order of merit, and Bardock (198) is UFV’s top contender, sitting sixth.
“Wednesday’s round at Sandpiper was exciting for us,” Cascades women’s coach Cody Stewart said. “I saw a lot more confidence out of the team. Finishing just behind UBC in second place allows them to see that they can do it, and gives them more confidence moving forward. When they bring their best stuff, they can compete, and they can beat anyone.
“Overall, I was pleased with both days. Our rookies are getting the hang of it, and moving forward, I think we’re going to see some good results.”
The teams continue the BC Rivalry Series next week. On Wednesday, Oct. 21, they’re back at Northview to play the Ridge course, and on Thursday, Oct. 22, they’re at Mayfair Lakes in Richmond.