The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades soccer team was in a must-win situation over the weekend in order to make the playoffs and win is exactly what they did.
The men scored two do-or-die wins on Friday (Oct. 22) and Saturday (Oct. 23) in Kelowna against the UBC-O Heat to earn a spot in the Canada West playoffs.
Anything less than two wins would put doubt in the Cascades postseason chances, and in a non-stop downpour on Friday UFV’s Jun Won Choi capitalized on a fortuitous bounce to put the Cascades up 1-0 at 37:36. Goalkeeper Jackson Cowx and the UFV defence made that goal stand up, repelling the Heat’s offensive forays throughout the second half.
⚽️ MSOC | Cascades GOOOOOOOAAAAAL!— UFV Cascades (@UFVCascades) October 23, 2021
Late in the first half, the Cascades take advantage of a bad bounce off a UBCO defender, and Jun Won Choi finishes!
🏔 @goUFV 1
🔥 @ubcoheat 0#GoCascades pic.twitter.com/Zgh4pvy76h
Tobias Spiess emerged as the Cascades hero on Saturday, scoring goals at 57:50 and 75:01. UBC-O added a late goal, but that offence held up and UFV earned the 2-1 win and a playoff spot.
“Great mental toughness,” enthused Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes. “This group’s now undefeated in seven, and that’s something that’s kind of gone under the radar. I think we’re hitting form at the right time. To make the playoffs after we had a rough start is fantastic. I can’t say enough about the boys. They’re a fantastic group to be around, and I just love being around them. Their attitude and work rate is just infectious, and it’s nights like tonight that make it all worthwhile.”
It was a remarkable turnaround for the men, who struggled early and had two ties and three losses in the first five games. They battled back and finished at 4-3-5, good for third place in the CW’s West Division.
UFV next travels to Edmonton to take on the University of Golden Bears on Friday (Oct. 29) at 2 p.m. Alberta posted a record of 4-1-5 and finished second in the Central Division.
The last time the two teams met was back on Sept. 16, 2018 when Alberta defeated UFV 3-2.
It was also a perfect weekend for the UFV women, who earned a pair of 1-0 victories over the Heat on Friday and Saturday.
Taylor Nekic’s goal at the 67-minute mark earned UFV the win and officially clinched a playoff berth on Friday. Goalkeeper Joven Sandhu collected her fourth shutout this season.
The women continued the strong play on Saturday, and Hannah Gamble scored a goal at 84:25 to give the Cascades the win and clinch third place in the West Division.
Similar to the men, the women started off poorly, and were winless in the first six games. However, they closed off the season on a tear and have now won six straight. They finished the season at 6-4-2.
“It’s nice to finish off strong,” UFV head coach Niko Marcina said afterward on Saturday. “The game itself likely wasn’t the prettiest performance, but the fact we were able to compete right up to the final minute was a positive moment for our program. At the end of the day, we’re glad we’ve got our sixth win in a row.”
The women also head to Edmonton and are set to take on the MacEwan Griffins on Saturday (Oct. 30) at 1 p.m. The Griffins finished first in the Central Division with a record of 10-2.
The last time the two teams met was on Sept. 21, 2019 when MacEwan earned a 2-0 win.
For more on the teams, visit gocascades.ca.