The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team raced out to an early lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Manitoba Bisons at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Friday evening.
The Cascades controlled the majority of play in the first half and after building a 3-0 advantage, it looked as though the home team might run away with it. But the Bisons had other ideas, finding a goal in first-half stoppage time and adding another late in the second to make things interesting.
The CIS No. 10-ranked Cascades kept the visitors at bay, though, to improve to 7-3-1 on the season, snapping a two-game losing streak while moving up from fourth place to third in the West Division. Manitoba fell to 6-3-2
“It’s a game that we dominated in every way except the scoreboard,” said UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht, alluding to the fact his squad out-shot the Bisons 22-7.
“It’s kind of frustrating that we’re not seeing the quantifiable results of some very positive things. We’ve just got to keep moving forward and start to execute a little bit better. We should have scored more goals today, and we just let them have two good chances – our keepers had no chance on either goal.”
The Cascades are back in action at home on Saturday – they host the Winnipeg Wesmen (1-9-1) in a 5 p.m. start at Abby Senior. It’s UFV’s last regular season home game of the campaign, and graduating fifth-year players Dayle Jeras, Shelby Beck and Jade Palm will be honoured in a pregame Senior Night ceremony.
On Friday, the Cascades opened the scoring in the 19th minute on a quick counterattack. Gurneet Dhaliwal charged forward with possession before finding Brittney Zacharuk on the left wing. Zacharuk crossed the ball into the box where Monika Levarsky stretched out to deflect it into the far corner of the net.
The goal snapped a 287-minute shutout streak, spanning more than three games, for the Bisons.
Shelby Beck added to the Cascades’ lead in the 24th minute. Zacharuk, who was a force all afternoon, picked up her second assist of the game when she fired a ball into the box for Beck. A Bison defender blocked Beck’s first crack at goal, but a friendly bounce led to her getting another chance. She would make no mistake the second time around as she slotted the ball past Bisons keeper Madison Wilford.
UFV earned a third goal from a set piece in the final minute of the half. Again from the left side, Beck punched the ball into the area. Dhaliwal got under it at the right post and headed it back across goal where Cascade defender Tristan Corneil was first to it and drove the ball into the net.
The Bisons would answer back late into stoppage time. Wilford wisely punted the ball downfield to substitute Alyssa Daley. The Bisons forward made a hard run towards goal and got around the challenge of Jeras before chipping the ball over UFV keeper Kayla Klim just seconds before the halftime whistle.
Halftime adjustments by both teams saw the early portion of the second half played methodically, with little chance for either squad in the attacking third. And when a 76th-minute opportunity for UFV presented itself, Wilford was there to shut the door.
Levarsky flicked the ball past a Bison defender for Dhaliwal to run onto. She made a quick move to the right side of goal before striking the ball on net. Wilford challenged well and deftly punched the ball wide.
The Bisons would draw to within one in the 85th. Daley earned her second point of the match when she slipped the ball past the Cascades defence to Selina Speranza. UFV keeper Emily Harrold, who replaced Klim at half, charged out of her net to challenge but Speranza showed great poise and chipped the ball into the top portion of the net.
Rookie Harman Billen picked up game MVP honours, having effectively controlled the midfield on behalf of the Cascades.
“It’s great to get back to winning ways,” Giesbrecht acknowledged.
“You’re dominating a game, and you fall asleep and switch off. It’s a learning opportunity, which is the most positive way to look at it. You can’t switch off against any team in Canada West, or they’ll punish you. It’s a dangerous game to play.”
– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff