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UFV Sports Sunday – Another Soggy Match, Women’s Volleyball Bitten By Dinos

Abbotsford (Dan Kinvig) – Women’s Soccer: Cascades top T-Wolves to climb West Division standings

A clutch second-half goal from Alanna Sydenham lifted the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over the UNBC Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon.

Playing under a relentless rainfall at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, the Cascades out-shot the T-Wolves 13-0, but it took them until the 75th minute to find the back of the net. Sophomore defender Sydenham did the honours, enabling the Cascades (4-4-2) to move into a tie for third place in the West Division with the UVic Vikes. UNBC fell to 1-8-1.

“I think what happened was, we understood we needed the three points and we focused almost too heavily on needing to get those three points,” UFV head coach Niko Marcina analyzed afterward. “As a result, we were just panicking in the final third, and we weren’t capitalizing and finishing our chances. However, we reminded them of the process we need to get the job done. I think that helped slow things down mentally, and allowed us to play better soccer in the second half, which turned into an awesome goal.”

The Cascades began the game by honouring seven graduating athletes – Simi Lehal, Kelsey Mitchell, Joven Sandhu, Taylor Nekic, Harneet Dadrao, Sarah Parker, and Brittany Costa.

Once play commenced, the UFV squad comprehensively dominated the first half, earning a parade of corners and numerous dangerous chances. Yet they were unable to generate a goal.

Among UFV’s many glorious looks at goal, Lehal’s shot from close range went just over the crossbar; Jashan Sandhar sent a shot off the inside of the post that spun back out; and Halle McCambley’s point-blank volley was straight at UNBC keeper Brooke Molby.

The Cascades continued to press in the second half, and finally broke through in the 75th minute. Dadrao’s corner found Sydenham at the far post, and she threaded a shot between Molby’s legs from close range.

UFV continued to generate chances, and Lehal and Jenna Mele both sent shots off the crossbar in the dying minutes.

In the end, Sandhu picked up her third clean sheet of the season.

The Cascades wrap up the regular season next weekend on the road vs. UBC Okanagan.

Post-game, Marcina lauded the contributions of his graduating athletes.

“They’ve given their all,” he said. “They’ve meant a lot to myself, the Cascades, their teammates. The amount of time they’ve spent, on the field and off the field, they’ve helped this program immensely. I was very emotional for them off the field, and I can only imagine how emotional it was for them and their families.

“I’m super-proud of them. They gave it their all, and they always give it their all. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Men’s SOCCER: T-Wolves strike late to earn 2-2 draw with Cascades

For the second time this weekend, the UNBC Timberwolves proved to be a resilient foe, battling back from a two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw on Sunday with the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team.

The storyline was eerily reminiscent of Friday’s series opener, which saw the T-Wolves also rally from two goals down to claim a 2-2 tie.

Trevor Zanatta scored two first-half goals for the Cascades on Sunday, but Stu Rowlands and Abou Cisse struck in the second half to level the score for the visitors.

When all the rubber turf pellets at Abbotsford Senior Secondary had settled, the Cascades (2-3-5, 11 points) still have full control of their playoff fate, sitting fifth in the West Division and needing to climb into the top four to punch their post-season ticket. The UBC Thunderbirds (15 points), Trinity Western Spartans (15) and Thompson Rivers WolfPack (14) are still within reach, and TWU has already completed its 12-game regular season schedule, meaning two UFV wins at UBC Okanagan next weekend (Oct. 22-23) would be enough to get them in.

UNBC (1-4-5, eight points), remarkably, is also mathematically alive for a post-season berth, if they’re able to sweep TRU at home next weekend and the UFV-UBCO results fall favourably.

“I thought our first half was fantastic, probably the best we’ve looked all season,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. “We created numerous chances – missed a pen, their keeper’s made three or four good saves, we’ve hit the bar… it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 at halftime, and wouldn’t have been an unfair result.

“And then for whatever reason, second half, we come out again and I don’t know if it’s a lapse in concentration or what it is, but just a bad 20-minute period that kind of set the tone. Two poor goals, in terms of how we conceded them. Our balance was poor, and we allowed them too much space . . . we weren’t able to kill the game off.

“Conceding late is a heartbreaker, and obviously it’s disappointing.”

The Cascades appeared poised to open the scoring in just the second minute on Sunday, as Jaskarn Sodhi was hauled down in the box. Nikhil Reddy stepped to the penalty spot, but his attempt cleared the crossbar.

The hosts were undeterred, though, and opened the scoring just two minutes later. David Parfett, from the right wing, lofted a free kick into the box, where Zanatta rose to head it home, just off the fingertips of UNBC keeper Daniel Zadravec.

In the 14th, Zanatta made it 2-0. Off another Parfett set piece – a corner this time – the ball was initially cleared out, but Reddy tracked it down and unleashed a powerful volley that was stopped in highlight-reel fashion by Zadravec. Zanatta was there to pop home the rebound, though.

The Cascades continued to push for more offence – Tobias Spiess banged a free kick off the crossbar, and Taylor Richardson had a rising shot from the left wing tipped over the bar by Zadravec.

UNBC got on the board in the 63rd – Kensho Ando’s attempted pass to the wing took a fortuitous deflection off a UFV defender and fell right into the path of Rowlands, and he capitalized with a low shot into the left corner.

The Cascades continued to generate great looks off Parfett set pieces – Taylor Richardson flicked a terrific header off a free kick, but Zadravec dove to his left for a spectacular save.

At the other end, UNBC’s Gregor Smith had a clean look on a counterattack following a UFV corner, but Cascades keeper Jackson Cowx tipped his rising shot over the bar.

The UFV side suffered a blow in the 72nd minute when captain Ryan Donald went down with a knee injury and was unable to continue.

The T-Wolves equalized in the 88th. The Cascades initially cleared a dangerous-looking cross into the box, but the ball went right to Cisse, and his low shot found its way in through traffic.

The Cascades had honoured four graduating athletes – Donald, Parfett, Reddy, and Jun Won Choi – in a pregame senior ceremony, and while Lowndes noted he would have loved to send them off with a win, he praised them for what they’ve given to the team.

“Those guys have contributed immensely to the program, helped us build and helped us continue to get better,” Lowndes noted.

“Ryan Donald, for me, is up there in the top three or four most complete players who have ever played for this program. Ryan was part of my first full recruiting cycle . . . I still remember standing in a clubhouse on a rainy night, and him telling me he wanted to come to UFV. I knew what a good player he’d become.

“I’m happy for him, and for the rest of the boys. David Parfett’s turned into a really, really good player and a good leader, a great guy to have around. Nikhil’s come in and meshed with the group really well, and obviously Jun, we know his qualities and we’ve been so excited to have him back this season.”

Women’s Volleyball: Cascades fall to Dinos in five-set thriller

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team fell a couple points short of completing an epic comeback, as they fell in five sets to the Calgary Dinos on Sunday in Kamloops.

Wrapping up their run at a preseason tournament hosted by Thompson Rivers University, the Cascades dropped the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-16, but battled back to take the next two by matching 25-22 margins. The fifth came down to the wire, with the Dinos pulling off a 16-14 triumph.

The UFV squad concludes the weekend with a 2-1 record, with wins over MacEwan on Friday and Mount Royal on Saturday preceding the close loss to Calgary.

“Calgary is a historically strong volleyball program, so this was a good test, to play one of the older, bigger universities,” Cascades head coach Janelle Rozema said. “Our goal was, every day this weekend, to get better. Even though this wasn’t a win, we played even better than the two games we’d won previously. We’re a better, more improved team from what we were on Friday.

“I felt like we definitely made some big improvements in our blocking and block defence game, and our hitters were a lot smarter with a variety of shots. Calgary is pretty difficult to play against, and on our van ride home, we went through our laundry list of things we know we can still improve on.”

Outside hitters Amanda Matsui and Sadie Wilson continued to excel for the Cascades as they had throughout the weekend, and the UFV squad showcased its talent and depth as Kristen McBride stepped into the starting lineup. Setter Cailin Bitter had a strong performance vs. the Dinos, making great decisions in feeding her attackers while adding several setter-dump kills.

“In reflection of the weekend, it motivates us in two ways,” Rozema summarized. “This was a test of how we measure up, and we showed we’re in the mix and we deserve to be in this league. But it also showed us that there are still a lot of ways we can improve. Both of those things are motivating.”

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