UFV soccer women aim for playoff upset
It's perhaps the most overplayed song in North American sports arenas, but Journey's Don't Stop Believin' might be the most fitting soundtrack for the University of the Fraser Valley women's soccer team as they embark on the playoffs.
The Cascades, the No. 7 seed in Canada West with a 6-5-1 record, hit the road to face the No. 2 Victoria Vikes (9-2-1) in the conference quarter-finals on Saturday.
The teams met two weeks ago at Chilliwack's Exhibition Field, and though UFV might have had the edge in scoring chances, the Vikes prevailed 1-0.
"After that game, I talked to the girls about that little extra level of belief that maybe leads to a bit more composure in the attacking third," Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht said. "If you're confident and you're composed, there's a greater chance you're going to execute.
"That's what it's going to take to be successful this weekend."
Simply qualifying for the playoffs should be viewed as a huge accomplishment for a youthful Cascades squad which lost central midfielders Mackenzie Shopland and Chelsea Steffen to season-ending knee injuries.
In their absence, Giesbrecht has seen players like striker Carly Neeson and rookie midfielder Kara Delwo step up.
"We're learning lots this year, and it's been a fantastic experience for us to be in these tight battles," he said.
The Cascades wrapped up the regular season with a pair of losses against nationally ranked foes on the weekend. They fell 2-1 to the No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans on Friday, with Danica Kump mustering the lone UFV tally. On Saturday, the No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds beat the Cascades 5-2, despite goals from Danika Snook and Tristan Corneil.
CASCADES MEN CAN STILL MAKE PLAYOFFS
The UFV men's soccer team also dropped both their weekend matches, falling 1-0 to TWU and 3-0 to UBC.
The Cascades probably deserved better against the Spartans – they outshot their local rival 24-10, but were unable to generate a goal. TWU's Jarvis Ambaka scored the game-winner in the 74th minute.
On Saturday, Milad Mehrabi scored twice to lead the Thunderbirds to victory.
"We lost to a very good UBC team," UBC coach Alan Errington said, "but our lack of offence this weekend hurt."
The Cascades men (3-5-4, 13 points) still have a mathematical shot at catching UVic (5-5-2, 17 points) for the third and final Pacific Division playoff berth, but they would need to win both of their home games this weekend as they wrap up the regular season. They host the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday, and the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday. Both games kick off at 7:15 p.m. at Chilliwack's Exhibition Field.