Goals from MacMillan, Byrne lift UFV men’s soccer team to season-opening win

Kree Byrne (24) scored early in the second half to give the Cascades a 2-0 lead over UBCO on the road. (Photos by Cary Mellon / UBCO Athletics)

Kree Byrne (24) scored early in the second half to give the Cascades a 2-0 lead over UBCO on the road. (Photos by Cary Mellon / UBCO Athletics)

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team delivered a victory for rookie head coach Tom Lowndes in his Canada West regular season debut, blanking the UBC Okanagan Heat 2-0 in Kelowna on Saturday afternoon.

Midfielders Connor MacMillan and Kree Byrne registered the goals, while Cascades keeper Alex Skrzeta was required to make just one save en route to the clean sheet.

The Cascades (1-0-0) will look to build on their strong start on Sunday afternoon, when they travel to Kamloops to face the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (0-1-0). The game kicks off at 2 p.m., and will be webcast at canadawest.tv.

Michael Mobilio (left) and Connor MacMillan of the Cascades combine to take the ball away from a UBCO opponent.

Michael Mobilio (left) and Connor MacMillan of the Cascades combine to take the ball away from a UBCO opponent.

“The lads were fantastic today,” Lowndes enthused. “From top to bottom, they were awesome. The defensive work was unbelievable. They stuck to the plan, and they saw the rewards of that.”

MacMillan opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, receiving a pass from Daniel Davidson and bursting into the box against several UBCO defenders and launching a shot that found the bottom corner.

Byrne made it 2-0 just seconds after the second-half restart. Colton O’Neill moved the ball to Davidson, who sent it to James Najman, who in turn fed Byrne for the finish.

“We were joking on the sidelines how fast it was – I hadn’t even started my watch,” Lowndes said with a chuckle. “We knew we needed to put a stamp on it in the first 10 or 15 minutes (of the second half), but I didn’t expect a start like that.”

The Cascades attempted 10 shots to the Heat’s two, and Skrzeta’s only official save came in the 90th minute.

“There were a couple of scrambles in the box, and they hit the post off a looping header, but we were never really in danger of conceding,” Lowndes said. “We defended as a group. They worked so, so hard.”

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