The Cascades absorbed a heartbreaking defeat on opening night – after leading the defending national champion Trinity Western Spartans for the vast majority of the game, they surrendered two late goals and fell 2-1 on the road on Friday.
Facing another powerhouse squad, the UBC Thunderbirds, in their home opener on Sunday afternoon, the UFV women once again went ahead 1-0, but this time they pulled through for an impressive victory.
“I challenged the girls that when adversity strikes – and Friday was a tough experience – that it’s a time to show your character,” Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht said after the UBC win. “I thought we did a great job of that today.
“I’ve told them all along I love their character – I love who they are as people and who they are as athletes. They’re competitors, and they hate losing. And I think that was the thing today. We just refused to lose.”
Shelby Beck’s goal in the 76th minute was the difference on Sunday. Sprung on a breakaway by rookie striker Monika Levarsky, Beck made no mistake, picking the top left corner behind T-Birds keeper Emily Wilson. UFV netminder Kayla Klim posted the clean sheet, with six saves.
On Friday at TWU, the Cascades surged ahead in the 26th minute as Kara Delwo – recently returned to active duty after ACL surgery – headed the ball home off a corner kick.
UFV nursed that lead into the waning minutes, but in the 84th, the Spartans’ Krista Gommeringer was taken down in the box and Alessandra Oliverio converted the ensuing penalty kick. And late in injury time, TWU’s Jessica King scored the game-winner.
“We played a great game,” Giesbrecht said. “It’s tough, and it happens sometimes in soccer. It can be a cruel game. But you’ve got to learn from it and move on. We’re a young side, and I think we did learn from it.”
The UFV men’s soccer team turned in solid performances against both TWU and UBC, only to sustain 1-0 defeats in both games.
The Cascades deserved better on Friday vs. the Spartans – they outshot their opponent 10-5 and boasted an 11-3 edge in corner kicks. But host Trinity Western escaped with the victory, as Vitaliano Poletto’s goal in the 18th minute held up as the game-winner.
Taking on the two-time defending national champs from UBC on Sunday, UFV battled them to a scoreless draw at halftime, only to lose on Navid Mashinchi’s goal in the 80th minute.
“I thought we played really well, and thought we didn’t deserve to lose,” said Cascades coach Alan Errington. “I thought we deserved at least a point. We played the two-time national champions and held them for 80 minutes, and we had a number of chances of our own.
“That said, I’m really happy with the way we played. We passed well, we defended well, and we attacked well. I told the players today, ‘It’s not how we start the season, it’s how we end it.’”
• The UFV soccer teams are on the road this weekend to face UBC-Okanagan (Friday) and Thompson Rivers University (Saturday).