Women’s Soccer: Cascades clinch second place with win over Pronghorns
The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team locked up second place in the Pacific Division and set a new program record for wins in the season on Saturday evening, as they blanked the Lethbridge Pronghorns 2-0 in the Canada West regular-season finale for both teams.
The Cascades came up empty in the first half despite a huge territorial advantage, but they broke through in the second half with goals from Kara Delwo and Amanda Carruthers. Goalkeeper Emily Harold made four saves for her third shutout in three starts this season.
UFV improved to 9-2-3, erasing their previous team record for wins in a season of eight, established in 2010 and equalled in 2015. With a four-point cushion over the Alberta Pandas, who have one game in hand, the Cascades also secured the second seed in the Pacific Division and will face the fifth-place Victoria Vikes at home in the first round of the conference playoffs next weekend.
The Pronghorns (3-9-2) are eighth in the Prairie Division, and will not qualify for the post-season.
“There was a lot at stake, and a chance to set our own program record for league wins in a season,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “We told the girls to have an aggressive mentality and to take the game to our opponents, and I thought they did that. Throughout the whole first half we were going at them, creating chances, just maybe not as sharp as we’d like. We know, though, that if we keep our mentality positive and assertive, it’s just a matter of time before we get that break we need.”
The Cascades carried the play the first half, but went into the break deadlocked at zeroes. Danica Kump had the best look at goal – Sunayna Samra threaded a beautiful pass to send her in alone, but Pronghorns keeper Rachel Lee came charging out to make the save.
Delwo got the Cascades on the board with her first goal of the season in the 48th minute. Samra provided great service on a corner, and Delwo rose to head it home.
The goal felt like a bit of redemption for Delwo, who had a great chance to score the go-ahead goal late in Friday’s 2-2 draw with the Calgary Dinos but was stopped by Calgary keeper Sophia Traxler.
“It was really exciting,” Delwo said. “Last night I had a chance to finish off the game right in the dying seconds, and I didn’t execute. I was kicking myself for that. Tonight when I had that chance I took it and finished it off. It feels great to be able to do that and give my team that goal.”
The Cascades doubled the lead in the 71st minute. After linking together a series of passes – Desiree Caruso to Shayla Phipps to Samra to Kump – Kump ventured into the box and sent a cross over to Carruthers, who finished for her seventh goal of the season.
Karlee Pedersen picked up player of the game honours for her strong performance at left back.
Saturday was Senior Night, as the Cascades honoured six players who have been with the program since 2012 – Kump, Samra, Delwo, Pedersen, Tristan Corneil and Kayla Klim.
“It’s special,” Giesbrecht said. “Those six girls have done so much, and have been the foundation of our program for a couple years. They’ve played impact roles throughout their careers. There’s award-winners there, there’s heart-and-soul girls, there’s just difference-makers.
“They’ll be tough to replace, but we’re not going to focus on that. We’re going to focus on extending their university career as long as we can and continue to honour them with how we compete, how we play and the desire we show. We can’t wait for our playoff game next weekend. It’s going to be fun.”
Men’s Soccer: Cascades send seniors off in style with 2-0 win over T-Wolves
The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team earned its seventh clean sheet of the season on Saturday, blanking the UNBC Timberwolves 2-0 at MRC Sports Complex.
In the Canada West regular-season finale for both teams, the Cascades got goals from Justin Sekhon and Jassi Mann, plus seven saves from David Hicks to improve to 8-6-2 on the season, good for third place in the Pacific Division.
UFV will be in Calgary for the first round of the playoffs next weekend, but their opponent has yet to be determined. They’ll be facing either the Calgary Dinos or the Mount Royal Cougars, both of whom have games on Sunday to determine second place in the Prairie Division.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, fell to 4-10-2, which leaves them seventh in the Pacific and outside the Canada West playoff picture.
Both of the Cascades’ goal-scorers marked unique milestones on Saturday. Sekhon was one of five graduating players who were honoured in a pregame Senior Night ceremony – James Najman, Sahib Phagura, Connor MacMillan and Sukh Dhaliwal were the others – and he made sure the final home game of his career would be a memorable one. Just before halftime, the midfielder from Abbotsford, B.C. got his head on the end of a cross from Ryan Donald and sent the ball past UNBC keeper Mitch McFarlane for his fifth goal of the season.
“It meant a lot, scoring in my last home game here, in front of the fans, in front of my family and in front of the boys,” Sekhon said. “Before the start of the game, I felt like something was happening – something inside. I was going to score today.”
Mann is at the opposite end of his career – the rookie forward from Surrey, B.C. got his first career Canada West goal in the 50th minute with a right-footed finish off a cross from Brady Weir.
“We’ve talked about the senior players and what they’ve done for the program, and yeah, it was nice to see them contribute, as well as the younger players,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said. “We’ve got some really good young players coming through, and I think there’s some exciting times ahead for those younger players. But the oldies aren’t done just quite yet. We’ve got a playoff game next week that we’re going to go and try to win, and we’ll go from there.”
Hicks was full value for his third clean sheet of the campaign – he had a couple of tough saves in the late going, including a leaping effort in the 77th minute to punch Tofa Fakunle’s rising shot over the bar.
“I was pleased with the way we came out tonight,” Lowndes said. “All the senior guys started, and I thought we had a good first half – we got the ball down and we moved it well.
“I thought we were full value for being up 1-0 at halftime, but same scenario as last night (when UNBC rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit and earn a 1-1 draw). We wanted to make sure we came out in the second half flying, and I thought we did. We made some changes, played some younger players, and I was really impressed with their play. To finish the game with five players in their first year of eligibility was a big thing. We didn’t really skip a beat, so that was big for us tonight.”