Cascades men’s soccer edged 3-2 by Thunderbirds

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team dropped a wild 3-2 decision to the UBC Thunderbirds in their Canada West home opener Friday night at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.

It was a frantic, back-and-forth affair as both teams took turns testing the opposing goal, and racking up 24 fouls and four yellow cards amongst them in the process.

“It was kind of a game of two halves,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed. “First half, we were lackadaisical. We kind of sat off them a little bit and weren’t as close and as tight as we needed to be.

“In the second half, we came out and pressured them. When we got the second goal, it was a momentum change. We were pressing them for a good 35 minutes in the second half, and to be brutally honest, we were unlucky not to take something from the game.”

Cascades captain Colton O'Neill pushes the ball up the pitch.

Cascades captain Colton O’Neill pushes the ball up the pitch.

The CIS No. 7-ranked Thunderbirds opened the scoring the 16th minute off the foot of Sean Einarsson. UBC forward Gagan Dosanjh drove hard down the left wing before playing the ball into the box and found Einarsson charging. His left-footed strike found the netting to the left of Cascades goalkeeper Alex Skrzeta.

The Thunderbirds would double their lead in the 30th minute after Dosanjh’s strike took a tricky deflection off UFV defender Tammer Byrne. All Skrzeta could do was watch the looping ball sail over his head and into the goal.

UFV would get one back in the latter stages of the first half. A well-executed give-and-go down the left flank between Daniel Davidson and Justin Sekhon allowed Davidson to get in behind the T-Birds’ back line and deliver a cross to Kree Byrne. Byrne laid out to deliver a header back across the goal.

UBC started the second half much the same way they began the game. In the 50th minute, Harry Lakhan stretched their lead to two after an errant Cascade clearance from a UBC corner kick fell to him just outside the box. Lakhan struck a rocket off the inside of the post, past the outstretched arms of Skrzeta.

It wouldn’t take long for the Cascades to answer back. James Najman capitalized on a ball into the box from second-year midfielder Mason Thompson, setting the stage for an exciting finish. After beating UBC goalie Chad Bush to the ball, Najman struck the ball into the net over the prone keeper to cut the Thunderbirds’ lead to one.

The two teams would exchange chances for the remaining minutes but neither one could find another goal. The win boosts UBC’s record to 1-0-1 while the Cascades now sit at 1-2-0 on the season.

Next up for UFV is a return to Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Saturday night, when they will try for their first home victory of the season vs. the Victoria Vikes. Start time is 7:30 p.m.

Najman noted that despite facing a pair of two-goal deficits against the formidable T-Birds, the Cascades never quit.

“We knew to keep going and fighting,” he said. “And once that second goal came, the fire started going within the team. We started getting so hyped up for the game, and we put everything we could onto the field. It was unfortunate that it didn’t end up 3-3. We had our chances to keep going, but we got unlucky. But we know we can come back from this and we can get a win tomorrow.”

– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff

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