Women’s Soccer: Pandas rally for 2-2 tie with Cascades

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team was stung by a lightning-quick second-half rally from the Alberta Pandas on Sunday afternoon, ultimately settling for a 2-2 draw.

Playing at Foote Field in Edmonton, the Cascades built a 2-0 lead on goals by Katie Lampen and Simi Lehal, but the momentum swung the Pandas’ direction after a controversial foul call in the box went against the Cascades in the 75th minute. Alberta’s Ally Parth made good on the ensuing penalty kick, and the Pandas would knot the score in the 78th minute after Nicole Palladino scored on a scramble off a corner.

The result leaves the Cascades at 2-2-2, good for sixth in the Pacific Division; Alberta is 3-1-2.

“It’s tough – we would have loved to have all three points,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward. “At the end of the day, the refereeing is beyond our control . . . it’s on us to respond better to adversity when it hits. It’s just tough that we’re having lesson after lesson taught to us. We’ve got to keep getting better.”

Cascades rookie winger Lampen got the visitors off to a great start, opening the scoring in the sixth minute. Fellow first-year Bryana Buttar did some gritty work to win the ball from a Pandas defender at the right edge of the penalty area and feed it back to Lampen, and she launched a shot from distance that seemed to catch Alberta keeper Ashley Turner by surprise, going over her outstretched hand and bar-down.

Lehal made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute, striking a flawless free kick from about 35 yards out straightaway, finding the bottom right corner.

But just three minutes later, the Pandas lobbed a high-arcing cross into the box, where a trio of players – Alberta’s Georgia Tansley and Cascades defenders Marianne Spring and Kailyn Halvorson – awaited its descent. In the ensuing joust for the ball, Tansley and Spring went to the turf, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Parth stepped up and fired a shot into the left side of the net with UFV keeper Joven Sandhu leaning the other way.

Shortly thereafter, a Pandas corner ignited a rugby scrum in the box – UFV was unable to clear, and Palladino finally popped the ball home through a maze of legs.

Giesbrecht noted how pleased he was with the competitiveness shown by his squad, which was missing Kate Fisher and Tripat Sandhu due to injury in the aftermath of Saturday’s 1-0 loss at MacEwan.

“These were two physical games we played here in Edmonton,” he said. “The girls really dug deep today and put in a good performance. I’m proud of them.”

The Cascades return home for a pair of games at MRC Sports Complex this week. They host the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday and the Victoria Vikes on Saturday, both games kicking off at 7 p.m.

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