O’Neill’s goal boosts Cascades into tie with Vikes

Coming off their biggest win of the season the night before, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team had just enough left in the tank to claim a point against the Victoria Vikes on Saturday.

In their last home date of the regular season at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, the Cascades got a goal from Colton O’Neill in the 79th minute to ensure a 1-1 draw with their Island rivals.

Cam Stokes had staked the Vikes to a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute, but the Cascades pressed for the equalizer and finally got it via O’Neill, who notched his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign. It was his first from open play, the previous four having come on penalty kicks.

“I think this is the first year I’ve scored, so to have five goals is pretty amazing for myself,” said four-year veteran O’Neill, who plays both right back and on the wing for UFV.

“Kree (Byrne) just sent it in back post, close to the line, and I just put my foot through it, kept my head down, and it went in.”

The Cascades, coming off a thrilling 2-1 road triumph on Friday over previously undefeated and CIS No. 1-ranked UBC, found themselves trailing in the first half on Stokes’s strike.

_97P7584After O’Neill’s second-half equalizer, UFV continued to press and had a few more quality looks at goal, including a close-range header by O’Neill that was swallowed up by Vikes keeper Noah Pawlowski.

The Vikes had a great chance to claim the victory in the last minute of regulation, as Justin Donaldson Andrade got on the end of a low cross into the box. But Cascades keeper Mark Village came up with a huge sprawling save.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for UVic,” UFV head coach Alan Errington said. “I thought we played quite well for the first 20 minutes, and then we took the foot off the gas – a few heavy legs after last night’s game.

“But if you look at it over the long weekend and said before it started, ‘Would you be happy with four points this weekend against UBC and UVic?’ I think we would.”

It was the last home game for five graduating UFV players – Village, Trevor O’Neill, Ryan Liddiard, Ravi Singh and Juan Pablo Mora Perea – and they were honoured in a pregame ceremony.

The Cascades (5-4-1, 16 points) tightened their grip on third place in the Pacific Division after Trinity Western lost 3-0 to UBC on Saturday. Second-place Victoria (6-1-3, 21 points) maintained their five-point cushion on UFV in the standings.

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.

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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