The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday afternoon in Victoria.
Cameron Stokes scored his second goal of the game just before the final whistle to lift the UVic Vikes to a 2-1 victory in the Canada West quarter-finals.
The Cascades played well, particularly in the second half, and had a couple of great chances to score in the late stages when it was still tied 1-1, only to be denied by Vikes keeper Noah Pawlowski. That set the stage for Stokes’s game-winner.
“The game is a bit cruel,” UFV head coach Alan Errington mused afterward. “I thought we played very well, and in all honesty, I thought we were the better team in the second half. We had a couple of chances we might have done better with, but we didn’t.
“If we’d gotten to extra time, I fancied our chances. But we wish UVic all the best – we hope they go on and win it.”
The playoff tilt had originally been slated for Saturday evening at Victoria’s Centennial Stadium, but was rescheduled after a steady downpour left the grass field waterlogged. Instead, the game was held at UVic’s Field 2, an artificial turf pitch.
Stokes opened the scoring in the 34th minute, running onto a through ball from Tarnvir Bhandal and slotting a low shot past Cascades keeper Mark Village.
In first-half injury time, Connor MacMillan leveled the score. The third-year midfielder chipped the ball home off a scramble play in the box, with James Najman picking up an assist on the goal.
After the break, UFV largely controlled the game, but weren’t able to generate the go-ahead goal. Late in regulation, Elijah Sampson and Justin Sekhon had great looks at goal, but their headers were denied by Pawlowski.
At the death, the Vikes seized the victory when Stokes finished off a long cross from Paulo Dait at the far side of the net.
The loss closes the book on the CIS careers of five graduating Cascades – Village, Trevor O’Neill, Ryan Liddiard, Ravi Singh and Juan Pablo Mora Perea. The quintet leaves behind a tremendous legacy, having led UFV to the first Canada West playoff berths in program history (2013 and 2014) and a conference bronze medal last year.
“The five that are leaving us, they’ve given us everything they had,” Errington said. “They’ve been fantastic. Not only are they good players, they’re good people. This is a tremendous group. No prima donnas, no big heads.”