UFV Cascades tie Cavaliers in preseason finale

Women's soccer team opens at home on Friday against TWU

UFV’s Emily Harold makes a diving save during the Cascades exhibition game against the Concordia Cavaliers on Saturday.

UFV’s Emily Harold makes a diving save during the Cascades exhibition game against the Concordia Cavaliers on Saturday.

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team wrapped up its exhibition schedule with a 1-1 draw at home against the Concordia Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon.

Third-year forward Monika Levarsky notched her fifth goal in five preseason games for the Cascades, while Karlie Hurley replied for the Cavaliers, an NCAA Div. II program from Portland, Ore.

The UFV side finished the preseason with a 3-1-1 record, and opens the Canada West regular season on Friday against the Trinity Western Spartans (5:30 p.m., MRC Sports Complex, Field 4).

Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht felt his squad could have been sharper in the first half against Concordia, but was pleased with how they turned things around after the break.

“It was a little bit frustrating (in the first half),” he analyzed. “We weren’t dangerous – we were playing it safe a bit too much, and not being assertive in our attack, getting more high-quality scoring chances and getting more numbers forward.

“But I was proud of how we responded in the second half. A couple players stepped up and delivered a nice goal for us.”

Both teams had their chances during a scoreless opening half. In the early minutes, Levarsky had a clean look from inside the box, but her drive was tipped over the bar by Cavaliers keeper Olivia Brock.

Later on, Concordia’s Kayla Braunthal was sprung on a breakaway, only to send her shot over the bar.

The Cavaliers opened the scoring in the 49th minute. Three Concordia players got away on a counterattack against two Cascades defenders, and Hurley took a pass from Bobbi Eckler and launched a rising strike past UFV keeper Kayla Klim.

The Cascades got the equalizer in the 62nd – Amanda Carruthers made a great run down the left and fed the ball across neatly to Levarsky, who finished from close range.

Both teams came close to adding to their total – UFV’s Simi Lehal and Concordia’s Ana Delgadillo each sent headers off the post from close range, and Lehal had a rising shot tipped over the bar by Cavaliers keeper Anna Miller.

Both teams split the goalkeeping duties, with Emily Harold coming off the UFV bench in the 61st minute in relief of Klim.

Positive signs for Giesbrecht included veterans Levarsky and Carruthers forming a strong partnership up front, and a sharp performance from starting keeper Klim. The Cascades bench boss also had plaudits for rookie strikers Lehal and Shayla Phipps.

“I thought Shayla Phipps was fantastic – that was her best game for us yet,” Giesbrecht said. “Simi Lehal had some great chances late and showed what she’s capable of, which was really exciting for us.”

The Cascades posted wins over Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University and Pacific Lutheran University earlier this month.

UFV takes on the Spartans on Friday, and then travels to the prairies for games against the University of Regina Cougars on Sept. 10 and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Sept. 11.

They return home for games against the University of British Columbia Thundebirds and the University of Victoria Vikes on Sept. 16 and 17.

When UVic comes to town, it will be the first time the two teams have met since the Vikes eliminated the Cascades in the first round of the Canada West playoffs last season.

The Vikes ended the Cascades season in heartbreaking fashion after 120 minutes of scoreless action were settled when UVic bested UFV 5-3 in penalty kicks.

For more on the team, visit ufvcascades.ca.