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UFV/TWU Sports Saturday – Hitting The Pitch Before The Rain

Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig) – Women’s Soccer: Dunn’s late goal lifts Spartans past Cascades

Anna Dunn and the Trinity Western Spartans dealt the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team a heartbreaking 1-0 loss on Saturday evening in Langley.

Dunn’s goal in the 86th minute was the difference, nullifying a heroic defensive performance led by UFV goalkeeper Joven Sandhu which had, to that late juncture, held the No. 2-ranked team in the nation off the scoreboard.

Ultimately, it was TWU improving to 6-0-0 while dropping the Cascades to 0-2-2.

“I can’t say enough about our team’s work rate, work ethic and desire to compete today,” UFV head coach Niko Marcina said afterward. “The players wanted so badly to compete from start to finish. We put on a variety of players to fill some holes, and they did an amazing job.”

Coming off a 5-0 loss on Friday in the first game of the weekend set, the Cascades turned in a steadier defensive performance in the first half on Saturday, with the lone quality scoring chance for TWU coming as Maddie Melnychuk running in alone on Sandhu after a UFV defender slipped on the grass. Sandhu, though, came up with an outstanding save diving to her right.

Sandhu came up large again in the 73rd, as Dunn was sprung on a breakaway, but the UFV keeper again came up with a spectacular stop.

The Cascades began to earn more of the possession as the second half wore on, earning a series of corner kicks. Amy Connorton’s in-swinging effort in the 80th came screaming in directly on goal, requiring a sure-handed stop from TWU’s Hannah Miller.

The Spartans, though, broke through in the dying minutes. Grace Van den brink lobbed a long ball ahead for Dunn, who fended off Cascades defender Jessica Fennell and slotted a shot past Sandhu into the bottom right corner.

Afterward, Marcina noted that the Cascades had a reconfigured lineup due to a handful of key injuries, yet the play of the back three (Fennell, Taylor Nekic and Alanna Sydenham) and midfielders Brittany Costa and Avery Tulloch, among others, helped steady the squad throughout.

Sandhu’s performance merited special praise, as well.

“She was very focused and very dialed in, and it paid off,” Marcina said of his fourth-year keeper. “She stood on her head on two breakaways, which allowed us to gain some momentum and confidence. She’s determined to prove to her teammates that they can trust her, and she’s done such a great job.”

The UFV soccer teams are back in action next weekend at home, hosting the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday (women 5:30 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Sunday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.) at Rotary Stadium.

Men’s Soccer: Cascades battle Spartans to 1-1 stalemate

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team picked up a point on the road vs. their local rivals, tying the Trinity Western Spartans 1-1 in Langley on Saturday.

Taylor Richardson notched the first goal of the season for the Cascades (0-2-2) in the seventh minute of play, but Thomas Powell equalized for the Spartans (2-0-4) in the 65th to salvage the draw.

Both goalkeepers had to be sharp – UFV’s Jackson Cowx and TWU’s Alexander Cordeiro registered seven saves apiece.

“We were good for large parts of the game,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed afterward. “I thought we were really good in the first half and created multiple scoring opportunities and finally took one. Legs kicked in in the second half, and we had to defend at times. We stuck together after conceding a goal, and we created a few good chances when we were exhausted, depleted. We’ll regroup and bounce back for next weekend.”

Missing a large chunk of their veteran core on Saturday due to injury – including fifth-year seniors Ryan Donald and Nikhil Reddy, fourth-years Parman Minhas and David Parfett, and starting keeper Joben Mander – the Cascades nevertheless were on the front foot early and got on the board off a set piece deep in Spartan territory.

Mikael Mainella unleashed a free kick from the right sideline, and Tobias Spiess rose to flick the ball on to Richardson at the back post for the wide-open header.

“We got the monkey off our back,” Lowndes acknowledged with a wry chuckle. “It was a great goal – a great ball in from Mikael, a fantastic flick-on from Tobias, and a good header from Taylor to finish it.

“We’ve got some positives to take forward into next weekend, for sure.”

Powell drew the Spartans even in the 65th with a terrific strike from outside the penalty area that found the bottom left corner.

The Cascades had a crack at a go-ahead goal in the 77th, as Spiess lined up a free kick from just outside the box, but his low shot went just wide of the right post.

The Spartans had a few dangerous-looking forays late, but fullbacks Jaskarn Sodhi and Charandeep Rangi – both of whom went the full 90 minutes and were excellent throughout – were up to the task.

The UFV soccer teams are back in action next weekend at home, hosting the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday (women 5:30 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Sunday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.) at Rotary Stadium.

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