The women’s soccer clash between the UFV Cascades and UVic Vikes on Friday evening had massive playoff implications, but a 1-1 draw settled nothing between the two sides.
It was a tale of two halves, as the Cascades had a fantastic start and took the lead in the 21st minute on a strike by Monika Levarsky. They had other great looks at goal in the first half, but it wasn’t to be.
That opened the door for the Vikes, whose second-half surge yielded an equalizer in the 67th minute off the boot of Carlita Branion-Calles.
Both teams remain tied for second in the Pacific Division of Canada West with matching 7-1-2 records. The top two teams in the division earn the right to host a quarter-final playoff game.
“It was a very good battle, and I’m proud of my team,” Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “It’s tough in a game where you give up that tying goal in the second half – that’s a tough situation. But I can’t fault the players for their efforts.
“Maybe one thing we could have done is put them away. We had them against the ropes in the first half and were all over them, and probably could have got that second goal. That may have changed it.”
It was the Cascades’ final home game of the regular season, and freshman striker Levarsky opened the scoring after being sprung on a breakaway from a terrific pass by defender Jade Palm. Levarsky took one touch and then slid the ball past onrushing UVic goalie Meaghan Storie.
The Cascades would go on to outshoot the Vikes 8-1 in the first half, and Shelby Beck had a great chance to double the lead in the 33rd minute, but her rising shot found the woodwork. Shortly thereafter, Storie made a sprawling save on Beck after a pretty passing play involving Kara Delwo and Levarsky.
UVic was far more dangerous in the second half, and Emma Greig forced UFV keeper Kayla Klim to make a sensational diving stop in the 66th minute.
But just over a minute later, Branion-Calles did what Greig could not, sending a high-arcing shot over Klim’s head and into the far side of the goal.
The Vikes had a great chance to win it in injury time, but Cascades defender Dayle Jeras headed a shot off the goal line to preserve the tie.
“When that stuff happens, it’s just second nature,” Jeras said. “I was thinking, ‘I’m heading this out, I’m winning this ball, I’m getting to it.'”
There’s just one weekend remaining in the Canada West regular season, and the Cascades wrap things up on the road against Trinity Western next Friday and at UVic on Saturday. The Vikes host UBC on Friday prior to their rematch with UFV.
– photo courtesy Tree Frog Imaging