Daniel Davidson’s hat trick ensured that the final regular season home game of fifth-year captain Colton O’Neill’s varsity career was a successful one.
Davidson, a second-year forward with the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team, came into Friday’s game against the Trinity Western Spartans without a goal on the season. By night’s end he had three, as the Cascades prevailed 4-1 in a pivotal Pacific Division clash at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Fellow striker James Najman also had a big game for the Cascades, notching a pair of assists and setting the table for Davidson’s third goal of the night by drawing a foul in the box that led to a penalty kick.
The win allowed UFV (5-3-1, 16 points) to leapfrog the Victoria Vikes for second place in the Pacific Division. The Spartans (3-3-1, 10 points) sit fourth.
The venue switches in favour of the Spartans on Tuesday when the two teams clash again at Rogers Field on the TWU campus in Langley (7:15 p.m. kickoff).
It was Senior Night for O’Neill, UFV’s outstanding right back, and he was honoured in an on-field ceremony prior to the game.
“It’s nice on your senior night to go out with a bang, and we said before the game that Colton deserved that,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. “I’m really pleased with the effort, the desire, the work rate. We were first-class all over tonight. We wanted it.”
The Cascades parlayed the pregame festivities into an early lead. In the third minute, O’Neill’s brother Connor sent midfielder Kree Byrne down the right wing where he delivered a low cross into the box. The ball skipped to Davidson who struck it past TWU goalkeeper Andrew Hicks to open the scoring.
UFV keeper Alex Skrzeta kept the Spartans off the scoresheet with a big stop in the 26th minute. Winger Jarvis Ambaka outpaced Connor O’Neill down the left flank and put the ball across goal where Leighton Johnson got on the end of it, but the Spartans striker shot the ball right at Skrzeta.
The Cascades doubled their lead in the 34th minute after some great pressure by Najman. Spartan defender Kalem Scott tried to escape the UFV forward’s pursuit but couldn’t get away as Najman tracked the ball and touched it back to the oncoming Connor MacMillan. MacMillan took full advantage, slotting the ball past the outstretched arms of Hicks.
Davidson notched his second goal of the game six minutes into the second half. Cascades midfielder Justin Sekhon played the ball forward to Najman, who deftly flicked it to Davidson. He bore down on goal and made no mistake, lifting the ball under the crossbar to give UFV a 3-0 lead.
Moments later, Najman made his presence felt again as he hustled into the box and moved the ball past Spartan defender Taylor Johnson. With Najman charging, Johnson had no choice but to bring the fourth-year forward down. On the ensuing penalty kick, Davidson slotted the ball down the center of the goal to earn the hat trick and ring up the Cascade lead to four.
Trinity Western got one back in the 74th minute. Cascade defender Sukhjit Dhaliwal was whistled for a penalty just outside the 18, giving Elijah Adekugbe a free kick from a prime location. The second-year midfielder struck the ball flush, curling it around the wall and into the bottom right corner of the net.
In the aftermath, Lowndes said he was pleased to see Davidson break through offensively.
“He deserves that,” Lowdnes said. “Dan’s had a bit of a rough time – he hadn’t scored yet this season, and when he does, he scores three. We told him to stay positive and keep working, and it was going to happen. You see it in training – day in and day out, he scores goals.”
“It’s nice to score, obviously, but it’s a team effort,” Davidson said. “As long as someone’s scoring, I’m happy with that. But it was nice to see the ball come my way a couple times, and I was there are the right place and the right time, and was able to put it in the back of the net.”
– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff