The UFV Cascades women’s soccer team is heating up, and last weekend’s successful road trip may have been the breakout performance the club needs.
The women travelled to Edmonton on Friday to take on the tenth-ranked MacEwan Griffins, and Simi Lehal’s goal in the 37th minute proved to be enough for the Cascades to earn the 1-0 win.
Lehal’s goal came on a free kick after the Griffins goalie argued a call from the head official and stepped out of the box with the ball in her hands.
“Our young team is coming together – we’re still banged up, but I’m encouraged with how the team is dealing with the adversity we’re facing,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “We had a frustrating start in our first road game (a 5-0 loss at Lethbridge on Sept. 16), but it woke us up a little bit and we learned we have to earn our points. I’m so proud of how hard we battled today, and we defended really well.”
Goalkeeper Emily Harold was stellar between the pipes, earning her second shutout of the Canada West regular season.
The strong play continued for the women on Sunday in Prince George, when they exploded for three goals in the second half to win 3-0.
Tripat Sandhu, Gurneet Dhaliwal and Taylor Nekic scored for the Cascades and Harold registered three saves for her third consecutive shutout.
The game featured noteworthy milestones for UFV rookies Sandhu and Nekic, who each notched their first career Canada West goals.
“I think it’s fantastic that these young kids are getting opportunities, and they’re answering,” Giesbrecht said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Nekic said the adjustments made in the second half made the difference.
“The first half didn’t go so great, but we pulled it together in the second and were able to play for each other,” she said. “In the second the strikers were showing more and demanding the ball, and in the midfield we were able to switch it up a little.”
The women’s record is now three wins, two losses and one tie and they are in fifth place in the Pacific division. They return home for games against the TRU WolfPack on Friday and the UBC-O Heat on Saturday. Both games occur at 5:30 p.m. at MRC Sports Complex, Field 4.
The Alberta road trip also proved to a good one for the men’s soccer team, as they earned four out of a possible six points.
The Cascades got goals from Elijah Sampson (37th minute) and Karan Kular (51st minute) on Saturday against the Lethbridge Pronghorns, but goalkeeper David Hicks’ shutout bid was foiled in the 67th minute when the home team got on the board.
The goals were the first time the men got on the scoreboard in two games.
“It’s obviously big to get back to scoring goals, and we created a lot more chances than we have the past couple games,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes noted.
“If we put more of those chances away, the game is a lot more one-sided than the final score reads. I thought we controlled 70 of the 90 minutes of the game, and only got a little shaky after they scored. But to see the game out and get the win was huge. Full credit to the boys.”
The men returned to action on Sunday against the MacEwan Griffins, and battled the Edmonton-based team to a 2-2 tie.
The Griffins led 1-0 at halftime, but UFV got goals from Jassi Mann (60th minute) and Brady Weir (82nd minute). The Griffins tied the game back up just two minutes later.
“We were poor in the first half, with and without the ball,” Lowndes said.
“We didn’t play with enough tempo or energy – we didn’t press them enough and let them have the ball. Second half, it was night and day. We played with a much higher tempo. We passed the ball, we were brave, and we had some intensity and bite to us.”
The men’s record now stands at two wins, four losses and two ties, and they are in seventh place in the Pacific division.
The club next heads to Kamloops to take on the TRU WolfPack on Saturday at noon.
For more on the teams, visit ufvcascades.ca.