Fraser Valley – University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer head coach Tom Lowndes certainly knows what he’s getting in his first group of recruits in the Class of 2021.
Lowndes recently signed eight players from Surrey United SC 2003 – a team he’s coached since the boys were 13 years old.
Under Lowndes’s tutelage, the squad finished at the top of the BC Soccer Premier League (BCSPL) standings four out of five years, often by double-digit point margins, and appeared in two Provincial Cup finals.
Midfielders Joven Sandhu, Bradley Hobson, Ajaiveer Boparai and Parmbir Kular; defenders Dulain Panditha, Veer Sangha and Jaskarn Sodhi; and goalkeeper Logan Mathers will join the Cascades in 2021.
“For me, it’s a dream recruiting class,” Lowndes enthused. “When you coach players for five years and they want to commit to another five, it’s really nice.
“We’re adding real quality and real depth, bringing in players who will be the foundation of the program for many, many years. I know what they’re capable of, and I’m excited to add them to our group of quality players.”
Fleetwood Park Secondary
Sidhu was Surrey United’s player of the year in 2019, and Lowndes feels he’s also the top player in his age group in B.C.
“Joven is a special player,” Lowndes said. “He’s a real creative attacking talent with the ability to blow by players one-v-one with his skill and score goals. We’re really happy we can bring his quality to the team, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he adapts to the physicality of U SPORTS soccer. I believe he can make an impact early in his career.”
“They have a good soccer team at UFV, and I’ve been with Tom a while and like the way he coaches,” said Sidhu, who plans to pursue a kinesiology degree at UFV.
South Surrey, BC
Holy Cross Regional High
Mathers brings great length to the goalkeeper position at 6’6”, and he also put his height to great use on the basketball court, helping his Holy Cross Crusaders earn the Fraser Valley 4A title and a provincial championship berth last spring.
“Logan is a quality goalkeeper, and he’s a proven multi-sport athlete,” Lowndes noted. “I’ve really seen his leadership skills develop, and I believe he’s by far the top goalkeeper in his age group. We’re really excited to bring him in and compete for playing time next year.”
“I chose UFV because I feel it gives me the best opportunity to excel in both academics and my soccer career,” said Mathers, who will study political science at UFV. “I also like how close it is to home. My goals at UFV are to win Canada West and nationals within my time.”
Fleetwood Park Secondary
Hobson was part of Team B.C. at the U15 and U16 levels, and also excelled on the high school soccer scene, helping his Fleetwood Park Dragons to a pair of B.C. championship berths and earning team MVP honours in 2018 and 2019.
“Brad is another quality attacking talent,” Lowndes said. “He’s a proven goal-scorer from open play, and is deadly in the box on set pieces. He has the ability to play multiple positions, which is a big positive, and he’s another who will look to compete for us right away.”
“I chose UFV because I believe this year’s recruiting class could help lead the school to its first national championship,” said Hobson, who will study business at UFV. “I want to win individual awards such as golden boots, first team all-stars, all-rookie team, but my main goal is to win nationals.”
North Surrey Secondary
Panditha, MVP of his North Surrey Spartans high school squad in 2018, is a versatile defender who has the ability to play out wide as well.
“He’s very athletic, a good one-v-one defender, and he has the ability to come forward on the attack,” Lowndes enthused. “He’s everything we’re looking for in the fullback, and we’re looking forward to his transition to Canada West soccer.”
“I chose UFV because of the great soccer team and great campus,” said Panditha, who will study Computer Information Systems at UFV. “My dreams and goals are to excel in my studies and be effective on the soccer team.”
Abbotsford Senior Secondary
Boparai is the lone player amongst this group of recruits who hasn’t played for Lowndes for the full five years of youth soccer – he joined the Surrey United side earlier this year. He’s a former high school teammate of current Cascade Marley Edwards at Abby Senior, and helped the Panthers win provincial bronze in 2018.
“Another outstanding attacking talent,” Lowndes said. “He’s a tricky, dynamic winger with lots of pace, and a really good end product. He’s a player who can cause real problems for defenders. We’re excited for him to come in and give us some attacking depth, and compete for us right away.”
“I have taken interest in the UFV soccer team, as well as the business program,” said Boparai, who is an honour role student. “I hope to win a national championship with the UFV soccer team alongside my teammates.”
Enver Creek Secondary
In addition to excelling with Surrey United, Kular has been a member of his high school squad at Enver Creek since Grade 9, and was selected to the provincial AAA tournament all-star team in 2017.
“Parm is a versatile midfielder,” Lowndes said. “He’s shown great resilience – after being out nearly 18 months after shoulder surgery, he’s back looking sharp as he was before his injury. He’ll give us great depth in the midfield, and he has the ability to play on the backline as well. We’re looking forward to adding his quality.”
“It’s a great school with an amazing team and a lot of familiar players,” said Kular, who will study kinesiology at UFV. “I want to win nationals at some point and be remembered in the school long after I’m gone.”
Panorama Ridge Secondary
Sangha also excelled on the school soccer scene, helping his Panorama Ridge Thunder win the B.C. AAA championship in 2019 and earning selection to the all-tournament team.
“Veer is a strong fullback who has the ability to get up and down and attack as well as he defends,” Lowndes said. “He has good leadership qualities, and is committed to being the best athlete he can be. He’ll provide us some much-needed depth among our defenders, and will help give us stability moving forward.”
“I chose UFV because they have a great kinesiology program, and because their soccer team is getting very strong and I believe we can do something great as a team,” said Sangha. “I hope to win as many trophies as I can with the team and to great with my program.”
6’0” centre back
Princess Margaret Secondary
Sodhi, a former provincial team athlete, earned MVP honours with his school soccer squad at Princess Margaret Secondary in 2019.
“Jas is an accomplished defender,” Lowndes said. “He’s been a five-year starter at centre back in the Surrey United team, good with his head and good with his feet. He has all the capabilities to become a good player at this level, and I’m excited to see him transition to the physicality of U SPORTS soccer.”
“I want to win a championship with this team,” said Sodhi, who will pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree at UFV. “We’ve got a lot of good players here.”