After expending so much blood, sweat and tears on the soccer pitch over the past eight seasons, it was ironic that the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team clinched its first-ever Canada West playoff berth while sitting at home on their couches.
The Cascades wrapped up their regular season schedule on Oct. 19, but had to sweat out two more games from the Trinity Western Spartans this past weekend.
With a 6-7-1 record, UFV held the third and final Pacific Division playoff slot, with a five-point cushion over TWU. But if the Spartans were to win both of their weekend road games over the Calgary Dinos and the Lethbridge Pronghorns, they would relegate the Cascades to spectator status for the post-season for the eighth consecutive year since joining Canada West in 2006.
Ultimately, the Dinos did UFV a huge favour on Saturday – Izak Lawrence’s penalty kick in the 86th minute gave Calgary a 1-1 tie with the Spartans, thus snuffing TWU’s hopes of catching the Cascades.
“It’s nerve-wracking, having to wait an extra week and not playing,” acknowledged UFV coach Alan Errington, who followed the TWU-Calgary action via Twitter.
“But it’s fantastic, it’s incredible (to make the playoffs). The boys have really done well. We’ve really worked hard this year in how we play, trying to get things right.”
UFV advances to the post-season tourney at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium this week. They play the Alberta Golden Bears in the quarter-finals on Thursday at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to play UBC in the semis at 7 p.m. Friday. The bronze and gold medal games run at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, on Saturday.
The top two teams advance to nationals in Fredricton, N.B., Nov. 7-10.
“If we get to nationals, we can compete,” Errington said. “The hardest part is getting out of our group. Canada West is so strong.”
WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM FALLS IN QUARTER-FINALS
The UFV women’s soccer team saw its season come to an end with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Alberta Pandas in Canada West quarter-final action in Edmonton.
The game was tied 1-1 at the half, with Jade Palm heading home Paige Friesen’s corner kick to account for the UFV goal. Alberta’s Terri Kutryk scored the game-winner in the 72nd minute, though.
Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht stated in a press release that he was proud of his team’s effort.
“We battled hard and just came up short,” he said. “Alberta is a well-organized team that was difficult to break down and I felt we struggled at generating enough quality chances.”