The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team began the Canada West regular season by splitting a pair of games at their new home pitch, Chilliwack’s Exhibition Field.
The Cascades opened with a 3-0 triumph over the Mount Royal Cougars of Calgary on Friday, but it was the definition of a costly win. UFV captain Chelsea Steffen, who headed home the first goal of the game in the 54th minute off Danielle Schmidt’s corner, suffered torn ankle ligaments later on and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
For a Cascades team which was already missing sophomore star Mackenzie Shopland to a suspected torn ACL, losing another midfielder is a devastating blow.
“We’re all kind of gutted,” UFV coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “Chelsea’s our captain, and it’s a testament to who she is as a player.”
The Cascades kept their focus, though, and pulled away on goals by Sam Temple and Donna Pinning to deny Mount Royal a victory in their first ever Canada West game.
On Saturday, the Alberta Pandas dealt the UFV women their first defeat of the season by a 2-1 count. The visitors struck for a pair of goals in the first 16 minutes courtesy of Carleigh Miller and Amanda Black, and while the Cascades controlled the play in the second half, it took them until injury time to get on the board. Paige Friesen scored the goal, off a feed from Tristan Corneil, but UFV would get no closer.
“There were chances at both ends,” Giesbrecht noted. “However, they took their chances in the first half, and we didn’t. But again, I was very proud of my team, because they kept fighting and fighting to the end.”
• The Cascades women (1-1-0) hit the road this weekend to face another Canada West newcomer, the UNBC Timberwolves (0-1-1), on Sunday. The men’s soccer team opens the regular season at home vs. UBC on Friday (7:15 p.m., Exhibition Field), then faces Trinity Western on the road Saturday (7 p.m.).