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UFV Sports Friday – Men’s Soccer Reach Final Four, Opening Night for Basketball (VIDEO)

Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig) – MSOC: Cascades edge Golden Bears, punch Final Four ticket

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team is ticketed for the Canada West Final Four, in the wake of a thrilling 2-1 road win over the Alberta Golden Bears on Friday afternoon.

Playing in the CW quarter-finals at Foote Field in Edmonton, the Cascades got goals from Taylor Richardson and David Parfett, and a pair of highlight-reel stops in the second half from goalkeeper Jackson Cowx – including one on a penalty kick deep in injury time.

Ajeej Sarkaria replied for the Golden Bears, who had surrendered just four goals in 10 conference games, and hadn’t allowed an opponent score multiple goals in a single game this season prior to Friday.

The Cascades are off to the Canada West Final Four (location TBD) for the fourth time in their history, and first since 2018. They’ll face the winner of Saturday’s game between the Victoria Vikes and MacEwan Griffins in the semis for the right to advance to the CW final – and the U SPORTS national championship.

“My chest has been feeling pretty tight for the past 20 minutes,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said with a chuckle afterward. “It seems to be every time we come here, it ages me five or 10 years. Just incredible.

“I’m so proud of our guys. I think for us, we’re always the underdogs. No one believes in us, except for us. That’s kind of been our motto all year – we don’t care what other people think, we know what we are. Everyone’s bought into that as a team. We look at the rankings in the preseason, we put our heads down, and go to work. I’m excited to see how far we can go.”

The Cascades started the game brightly, but it was the Golden Bears who opened the scoring in the 13th minute. The hosts worked the ball down the left side and into the box, and Luke Withers slipped a pass to Sarkaria, the conference’s all-time leading point-getter. He turned to his right, eluded a UFV defender, and sent a low shot against the grain into the bottom left corner.

The Cascades drew even on a free kick from just outside the box. Richardson stepped up, and his low shot took a deflection off the wall of defenders and rolled into the right corner, with Alberta keeper Liam Collins leaning the other way.

Early in the second half, Sarkaria had a great chance to help his team reclaim the lead. Carlos Patino played him in on a breakaway, and Sarkaria tapped the ball to his left to manoeuvre around an on-rushing Cowx. UFV defender Jun Won Choi hustled back to get between Sarkaria and the wide-open net, causing the Alberta striker to pause, and in that moment, Cowx came flying back into the picture and knocked the ball out of bounds.

Shortly thereafter, UFV mustered a lightning-quick counterattack of their own. After the ball was cleared out of the UFV box, Choi threaded a long pass ahead to Charandeep Rangi, who slipped a slick ball into the path of Parfett who finished with a low shot.

The Golden Bears dominated possession in the dying minutes as UFV defended, and the Cascades were on the brink of victory before a last-ditch long ball ahead from the hosts caused problems. Lahai Mansaray tracked down the ball just inside the UFV box, where he collided with Cowx, and a penalty kick was awarded.

Patino stepped up, but Cowx dove to his left to parry his rising shot – a stunning stop.

UFV cleared the ensuing corner, and the final whistle blew.

Afterward, Cowx said he’d been watching Patino throughout the game and felt that his inclination would be to shoot to the keeper’s left on the PK.

“Since I’m the one that caused it, I needed to step up and help my team out,” the sophomore keeper reasoned. “I put the team in a tough situation, so I have to own up and stand up, be a leader and show the guys I can do this.

“He ran up, he took it, and I chose right.

“Amazing. I would relive that moment 100 times. That was unbelievable, especially in a playoff game.”

Afterward, Lowndes had high praise for his goalkeeper.

“A fantastic, heroic save by Jackson,” he said. “That’s a pressure of the highest level, to make a save like that in the 96th minute.”

Lowndes also lauded the play of Richardson, who ran miles for the Cascades and caused the Golden Bears problems with his speed down the right wing throughout.

“Tay’s been fantastic the past four or five weeks,” he said. “He hit his form at the right time. At the start of the year he was trying to find his way a little bit, but he’s been a handful for defenders. I thought he was really, really good today.”

Women’s Basketball: Cascades hold off Heat for opening-night win

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team was pushed to the limit by the UBC Okanagan Heat on opening night, but were able to emerge with a 71-67 victory Friday at the UFV Athletic Centre.

The Cascades led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter, only to watch the pesky Heat battle nearly all the way back. The visitors reeled off a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to 67-65 with just under three minutes left in regulation.

UFV was able to lock things down defensively from that point, allowing just two points the rest of the way, to ensure they’d end the night with a 1-0 record.

The Cascades are back in action at home on Saturday, hosting the UNBC Timberwolves (5 p.m., presented by Co-op), while the Heat (0-1) are in Kamloops to face the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.

“We just didn’t play like a veteran team,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on his team’s performance down the stretch of the fourth quarter. “We went on a nice run, and it felt like we were pulling away a bit there. But we took two poor shots, fouled them, and then off they go. We’ve got to learn how to finish teams, for sure.”

The Cascades got off to a solid start, opening a 15-7 lead in the first quarter, but the Heat – as they would do all night long – clawed back to within 15-14 before a Madison Draayers triple gave UFV an 18-14 lead at the end of the frame.

The hosts stretched the lead to double digits in the second quarter and led 40-29 at the half after Alexis Worrell drained a trey just before the break, and they would maintain a comfortable margin throughout the third.

In the fourth, the Cascades reeled off an 8-0 run, capped by five straight Nikki Cabuco points, to seemingly take control, up 67-52 with six minutes left. But the Heat fought back behind Jaeli Ibbetson, who accounted for nine straight UBCO points on a trio of triples as part of the 13-0 run.

The Cascades restored order off a slick inbounds play, as Maddy Gobeil hit a cutting Deanna Tuchscherer for the layup, and in the dying seconds, they weathered a three-point attempt from the corner by Kasey Patchell before a pair of Julia Tuchscherer free throws provided the final margin.

Gobeil paced the Cascades with 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals, and four other UFV players scored in double digits: Deanna Tuchscherer (13), Cabuco (11), Julia Tuchscherer (10) and Worrell (10). The Tuchscherer sisters each grabbed eight boards, and Cabuco added five assists and four steals.

Ibbetson went 5-for-10 from downtown en route to a game-high 19 points, and Kelsey Falk had a huge 15-point, 15-rebound double-double. Surprise Munie (13 points) and Brianna Falk (11) also scored in double figures.

“They really took us out of our game, I thought,” Coach Tuchscherer said of the Heat. “They played a lot harder than us early in the game, and I think it really got in our heads with the full-court pressure they were applying. It took me a little off-guard, to be honest with you – I was surprised we weren’t a little more effective breaking their pressure. All night, we didn’t run offence the way we wanted to. But it all starts with your defence – when they’re scoring and they’re able to set up their pressure, it makes it hard for us to run offence.”

Men’s Basketball: Toor, Cascades light up Heat on opening night

Vick Toor and the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team delivered a victory for head coach Joe Enevoldson in his first Canada West conference game at the helm of the Cascades, blitzing the UBC Okanagan Heat 85-63 on Friday night in Abbotsford.

The Cascades built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and didn’t look back, and it was Toor lighting the fuse. The fourth-year point guard racked up a game-high 24 points highlighted by 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, to go with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals as the UFV squad won with ease at the UFV Athletic Centre.

The Cascades (1-0) continue their opening-weekend homestand on Saturday vs. the UNBC Timberwolves (7 p.m., presented by Co-op), while the Heat (0-1) visit the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in Kamloops.

“It was more about the guys, in all fairness,” Enevoldson said, reflecting what it meant to win in his Cascades debut. “I’ve coached in a lot of basketball games, and some are more exciting than others. I’ve won some of those, I’ve lost some of those, so I didn’t get too worked up about that. It was just nice to kind of get out and coach basketball, and it was great for our guys to get out and play in a meaningful game and truly get better.

“I thought the effort, especially in the first half, was really good. We were rolling – we got out and ran in transition really well, and we rebounded the ball really well in the first quarter.

“Quite frankly, we still have a lot of room to get better. We all have to buy into what we’re trying to do, and if we do that, chances are we’re going to be a tough out. Overall, a good effort tonight.”

Toor got the Cascades off to a solid start, snaring a defensive rebound and taking it coast-to-coast for a layup. Later in the frame, he keyed a 12-2 UFV surge, scoring eight straight Cascade points as the hosts went up 24-13 at the end of the quarter.

Zubair Seyed had a big second quarter for the Cascades, scoring nine points in the frame as the UFV lead ballooned to 23 at the break (47-24).

The hosts cruised from there – the lead was never smaller than 15 points the rest of the way, and Dario Lopez and Aidan Wilson hammered down dunks in the late going to punctuate the win and fire up the home crowd.

In the end, 11 Cascades hit the scoresheet – Seyed finished with 11 points in just 15 minutes, and Lopez scored 13.

Gus Goerzen led the Heat with 14 points, Jalen Shirley scored 13, and Imoudu Ibrahim had 10.

Toor dominated throughout – in addition to his gaudy counting stats, he was also a +30 on the night.

“I think he really showed his leadership tonight,” Enevoldson said of Toor. “People have looked at him as a non-shooter throughout the course of his career, and it’s something we’ve talked about a lot. He shot the ball well tonight – 4-for-5 from three – and he’s a crafty scorer, for sure. I’d like to see him cut down on his live-ball turnovers a bit . . . so there’s areas for growth. But he’s really bought into being the go-to scorer, or one of the go-to scorers.”

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