The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team flexed its muscles on offence during a recent preseason trip through the northwest United States.
The Cascades racked up 13 goals while picking up two wins and a draw against a trio of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) programs: the Corban University Warriors, the Warner Pacific College Knights, and the Evergreen State College Geoducks.
“Overall, I’m happy with how the trip went,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said. “Preseason isn’t necessarily about results, it’s about how well you play. But to score that many goals, it was some quality stuff. In all three of the games, minus 15 or 20 minutes, we passed the ball really well. We created a lot of opportunities, caused a lot of problems, and looked really dangerous.”
The Cascades opened the jaunt on Saturday, Aug. 13 with a dominant 7-1 victory over the Corban Warriors in Salem, Ore. Third-year forward Daniel Davidson led the offensive onslaught with two goals, while James Najman, Jun Won Choi, Connor MacMillan, Justin Sekhon and Jassi Mann added singles.
On Monday, Aug. 15, the Cascades visited the campus of Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., and came away with a 2-2 draw with Najman and Sekhon supplying the goals.
The UFV side wrapped up the journey with a Tuesday afternoon tilt at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. A pair of first-half goals from fifth-year midfielder MacMillan put the Cascades firmly in control, and rookie forward Nate Trampleasure made it 3-0 on a penalty kick in the 74th minute after Najman was taken down in the box. Mann rounded out the scoring in the 88th minute, and keeper Arturo Ortiz picked up the clean sheet.
While the Cascades got predictably strong performances from veterans like MacMillan, Sekhon, Najman and Davidson, Lowndes was equally pleased with the development of his young players. Rookie defender Ryan Donald was a standout, and fellow first-years Trampleasure, Mann and Choi showed their ability to contribute on the scoresheet.
“The first-years that have come in, they all played really well and played big minutes,” Lowndes noted. “They adjusted really well to the level of competition. It was neat to see the group bond throughout the trip. If everybody buys into the way we want to play and we stay healthy, I think we can have a really good season.”
The Cascades men played two more games on their preseason slate, and both were against NCAA Div. II squads.
They headed to Bellingham, Wash. last Saturday to take on the Western Washington University Vikings (see page 27 for results) and hosted the Simon Fraser University Clan on Thursday, Aug. 25 at MRC Sports Complex, but results were not available before press deadline.
The UFV soccer teams open the Canada West regular season with a home doubleheader on Friday, Sept. 2. The women take on the Trinity Western Spartans at 5:30 p.m., and the men face the Thompson Rivers WolfPack at 8 p.m. The men have a second game on opening weekend, hosting the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. All Cascades home games are at MRC Sports Complex, Field 4.