Cascades open preseason trip with win over No. 3-ranked Vikings

Monika Levarsky was a force for the Cascades on Wednesday, notching a goal and an assist in a 4-2 preseason win over Western Washington. (UFV Cascades file photo)

Monika Levarsky was a force for the Cascades on Wednesday, notching a goal and an assist in a 4-2 preseason win over Western Washington. (UFV Cascades file photo)

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team earned an impressive result to open a four-game stateside exhibition swing, knocking off the Western Washington University Vikings 4-2 in Bellingham.

The Vikings are No. 3 in the NCAA Div. II preseason national rankings, but the Cascades came in and earned the victory on the strength of an explosive 20-minute stretch in the first half which yielded goals from Brittney Zacharuk, Monika Levarsky, Amanda Carruthers and Haley Eburne.

“It’s a good result, but it’s more about the progress we made,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “It’s a positive day.”

The Cascasdes got off to a slow start, absorbing some early pressure from the Vikings, and the hosts opened the scoring in the 13th minute on a penalty kick from Elise Aylward.

That goal seemed to wake up the UFV side, and they owned the balance of the opening half. Sophomore midfielder Zacharuk drew them level, pouncing on a rebound off Levarsky’s initial shot in the 22nd minute. Levarsky got a goal of her own off a Gurneet Dhaliwal corner in the 38th, and just over a minute later, Carruthers made it 3-1 with Levarsky picking up the assist. Eburne rounded out the scoring barrage in the 41st minute with a strike from 19 yards out.

The Vikings made a push in the second half and netted a goal from Gabriela Pelogi, but they would get no closer. UFV keepers Kayla Klim and Emily Harold split the duties between the pipes, each allowing one goal.

“They (the Vikings) are a great team – they’re a well-coached group, very athletic, and very successful,” Giesbrecht said, reflecting on the strength of a Western Washington program which opened its training camp on Monday.

“It was a bit of a rough start for us, and at times we weren’t at our best in the second half as well. But when we turned it on, we were a force. We had them under siege (late in the first half).

“It’s nice to change the flow of a game in your favour. We just rolled up our sleeves and did the simple things really well. We showed some good character.”

The Cascades’ road swing also features tilts against the St. Martin’s University Saints (Thursday, 4 p.m., Olympia, Wash.), the Seattle Pacific University Falcons (Saturday, 11 a.m., Seattle), and the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes (Sunday, 4 p.m., Tacoma). St. Martin’s and Seattle Pacific are both NCAA Div. II programs, while Pacific Lutheran plays in NCAA Div. III.

Giesbrecht’s side wraps up the preseason with a home date against the Concordia University Cavaliers, another NCAA Div. II squad from Portland, Ore. That game goes at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at MRC Sports Complex, Field 4.

The Cascades open the Canada West regular season on Sept. 2 against their local rivals, the Trinity Western Spartans (5:30 p.m., MRC Sports Complex, Field 4).

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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