Women’s Soccer: Dhaliwal, Cascades cruise past Vikes 3-0

ABBOTSFORD – For the second straight night, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team built a two-goal lead on their home pitch against a nationally ranked opponent.

But unlike Friday’s outing, which saw them settle for a 2-2 draw with the CIS No. 5-ranked UBC Thunderbirds after leading 2-0, the Cascades finished the job in decisive fashion, knocking off the No. 7 Victoria Vikes 3-0 at MRC Sports Complex on Saturday evening.

Sophomore striker Gurneet Dhaliwal scored twice in the first half – her third and fourth goals of the campaign – and rookie Simi Lehal notched her first career Canada West goal after the break. Monika Levarsky sparkled as a playmaker, picking up assists on all three Cascades goals, and keeper Kayla Klim made three saves en route to her second shutout of the season.

The result enabled UFV to move into a tie with the previously undefeated Vikes for second in the Pacific Division – both teams are 2-1-2.

“At the half, I told the girls we were up 2-0 and asked them if I needed to say anything more, and they said nope – they knew what they had to do,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward, reflecting on his team’s improved play with the lead on Saturday.

“Even with that, we came out a bit slugglish in the second half – it took us about five or 10 minutes before we got our foot on the ball a little bit more and started linking some passes. Once we got that third goal, we cruised in.”

Vikes keeper Meaghan Storie hadn’t allowed a goal in three previous starts this season, but the Cascades got to her in the 24th minute. Levarsky had the ball in the corner with two Vikes defenders closing in, but she made a sweet move along the goal line to get loose and slipped a slick pass to Dhaliwal, and she made no mistake, hammering the ball home from just above the penalty spot.

Dhaliwal struck again in the 38th minute, poking the ball home on a scramble in the box.

Lehal put the game out of reach in the 64th, with Levarsky once again the provider. The third-year forward fought off two Vikes defenders to slide the ball into the path of an on-rushing Lehal, and her first touch was a low shot into the back of the net.

“Last night we were up 2-0 and we thought we had it, so we started to (ease) off the gas pedal,” Dhaliwal said afterward. “That’s when it all went downhill. But we learned from that. Today when we were up two, we didn’t let down, and we kept going through the full 90 minutes which is what we talked about before the game.

“It was scrambly at first, but we got it together.”

Giesbrecht felt his team could have been tidier in possession, but he was pleased with his team’s efficiency around the goal.

“Gurns is just special,” he said of Dhaliwal. “She’s got this ability to her where she can turn on a dime and shake a defender, find a pocket of space, and she’s a deadly finisher. She proved that today. I like what’s developing with our attacking players with Amanda (Carruthers), Monika and Gurns. They’re really starting to get an understanding with each other. We’re starting to see a lot of great assists, great creative attacking plays. Monika, with three assists today, was special.

“And Simi has a very bright future ahead of her. She’s an attacking force, and she can physically dominate a game.”

The Cascades hit the road next weekend for games at the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Sunday. The Vikes, meanwhile, visit the Alberta Pandas on Friday and the UNBC Timberwolves on Sunday.

Men’s Soccer: Cougars snap Cascades’ home win streak

The Mount Royal Cougars handed the UFV Cascades their first home-field loss of the season, prevailing 4-0 in Canada West men’s soccer action at MRC Sports Complex on Saturday evening.

The Cascades had won their first three home games of the campaign – most recently, a 1-0 triumph over MacEwan on Friday – without conceding a single goal. But the visiting Cougars put a dent in that defensive record early, getting goals from Daylan Cato-Meyer and Jeff Blake in the first 17 minutes of play.

Cody Cook added a pair of second-half markers for Mount Royal, who improved to 6-1-1, good for sixth in the Prairie Division. UFV (3-2-1) is third in the Pacific.

“We came out a bit slow, and they came out fired up – they came out like a team that wanted three points,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed. “I think we were second-best in our tackles, and we weren’t playing as quick as we needed to.

“To concede four in a game is never nice. We’ve got to put it behind us and get ready for next weekend.”

The Cascades hit the road next weekend to take on the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday and the Saskatchewan Huskies on Sunday. The Cougars, meanwhile, have home dates with the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday and the UNBC Timberwolves on Sunday.

Mount Royal, coming off a 1-1 draw at Trinity Western on Friday, opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Cato-Meyer ran onto a through ball from Tyrin Hutchings and unleashed a shot from the top right corner of the 18-yard box. Cascades keeper Alex Skrzeta got a piece of it, but not enough. Blake made it 2-0 in the 17th minute, picking the top right corner from the top of the box.

UFV’s Daniel Davidson was sent off early in the second half after picking up two yellow cards in a two-minute span, putting a cramp in the Cascades’ comeback hopes. The Cougars took advantage – Cook made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute, nodding home a cross from Justin Anderson-Louch, and he added his fifth goal of the campaign in the 79th to put the game out of reach. MRU keeper Kamil Zielinski picked up his third shutout.

“I think the game is made up of moments, and the first 15 minutes, we’ve gone 2-0 down on two sloppy goals and we’ve put ourselves in trouble,” Lowndes said. “They’re a good team – passed the ball really well and pressed us.

“I thought we started the second half really, really brightly, and again, like I said, the game is made up of moments, and one decision took us down to 10 men, and then it’s an uphill battle. You’re going to struggle to score goals and cause problems against a quality team like that with 10 men

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