A game-breaking performance in the second half from Gurneet Dhaliwal lifted the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team to a 3-1 win over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday evening.
Playing under a steady drizzle at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, rookie forward/midfielder Dhaliwal scored two goals in three minutes to snap a 1-1 tie and lift the unbeaten, CIS No. 7-ranked Cascades to their third straight win.
UFV improved to 3-0-1 in Canada West play this season, while UBCO fell to 1-2-3.
“Gurns, she’s a game-changer with how she can finish,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward. “She has those little touches, those little moments of brilliance where she can decide games. We saw that today – just the nose for goal she has. She hunts for opportunities to get goal-scoring chances, and takes advantage of those.”
Danica Kump gave UFV a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute on Saturday. Shelby Beck made a lung-busting run down the left flank, beating a couple UBCO defenders before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot. Jade Palm was first to the ball but her effort on goal was stopped by UBCO keeper Joella Koblischke. Kump found the ricochet and slotted the ball into the middle of the net.
UBCO would come close to equalizing just minutes later, when midfielder Madelyn Ellis launched a shot off the crossbar from 25 yards. UFV keeper Kayla Klim reacted quickly to bring the ball down before UBCO attackers could get to it.
The Heat’s equalizer would come just before halftime. First-year forward Ally Ferronato received the ball from Mairi Horth on the left side before launching the ball on goal and into the top corner on the far side.
UFV retook the lead in the 66th minute courtesy of Dhaliwal. Kump played the ball from the right side through to Dhaliwal, who calmly chipped it over a charging Koblischke.
Dhaliwal’s second of the game came in quick succession. She again found herself in on goal in the 69th after a through pass from Brittney Zacharuk. Dhaliwal took a quick touch to settle the ball before slotting it into the left corner.
“The first half, I felt like I had a couple chances as well, I just couldn’t bury them,” Dhaliwal said. “But chances keep coming, and you’ve got to bury the ones you get.”
Dhaliwal has emerged as an influential offensive presence on a veteran-laden team, but the rookie said it’s not as easy as she’s made it look.
“It’s really tough, because I don’t have the confidence that the fifth-years and fourth-years would,” she said. “I’m usually extremely nervous at the beginning, and before games. As soon as the whistle blows, after my first mistake, I kind of get into it and I try to keep battling.”
Giesbrecht was pleased his team took care of business on their home turf this weekend, authoring wins over Thompson Rivers (1-0 on Friday) and UBCO.
“You have to get your points at home, and you have to get your points against teams that are on our side of the conference, and we did that,” he said. “We only see these teams once this year, so to drop points to them is huge in the table.
“Both TRU and UBCO are much-improved teams, and they gave us a lot to deal with. I thought at the end of the day, we got the job done. Not always pretty, but we were effective, and we got the six points so we’re happy.”
This coming week, the Cascades head to Edmonton to take on the University of Alberta Pandas on Friday, Sept. 25. Two days later, they visit Prince George to play the UNBC Timberwolves.
The Heat are at home next week to face the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday and the UVic Vikes on Sunday.
– with files from Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff