University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer coach Tom Lowndes would probably like to see his team finish a few more of their scoring chances, but he can’t find much fault with the Cascades’ defensive work.
The UFV side posted its fourth clean sheet in five Canada West conference games this season, blanking the MacEwan Griffins 1-0 at MRC Sports Complex on Friday evening.
Daniel Davidson gave the hosts the lead in the 41st minute, and they had numerous chances to extend it in the second half, but Dylon Powley turned in a heroic 11-save effort in the MacEwan net to keep it a one-goal game.
In the end, one goal was enough for the Cascades, as keeper Alex Skrzeta made three saves for his second shutout of the season. UFV improved to 3-0 at home and 3-1-1 overall, good for third in the Pacific Division, while MacEwan fell to 0-4-1.
“They frustrated us – they defended well and they were hard to break down,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. “But the amount of chances we created tonight, it could have been five or six (goals). It would have made our lives a lot easier, but the positive is a clean sheet, and I think we defended well. There’s no easy games in Canada West, and a win’s a win. So we’ll take the three points, we’ll regroup, and we’ll get ready to go at Mount Royal tomorrow night.”
The Cascades are back in action at home on Saturday vs. the Mount Royal Cougars (8 p.m.), while the Griffins continue their road swing through the Fraser Valley with a tilt against the Trinity Western Spartans (7:15 p.m.). The Cougars and Spartans played to a 1-1 draw on Friday.
Davidson’s second goal in Canada West play came on a spectacular individual effort. Gurmaan Jhaj lofted a high pass ahead to the third-year midfielder at the top left corner of the box, and he made a quick move to elude a Griffins defender before hammering a shot from a tight angle past Powley.
The Cascades continued to carry the play after halftime, and would end up out-shooting MacEwan 20-7 for the game, with 12 shots on target. But Powley kept them at bay. On two occasions in quick succession, he made diving stops to deny Cascades rookie Kenny Larmour his first goal. He did the same to Davidson shortly thereafter. Another golden UFV chance came and went when Justin Sekhon sent a feed from Connor MacMillan just wide of the post.
Skrzeta made sure the one-goal cushion stood up, diving to his left in the dying minutes to swat away a shot from MacEwan’s Jose Cruz.
“I’d say we probably should have put a few of those (chances) away, but their keeper did make a few nice saves,” MacMillan acknowledged. “We’ve gone up against a couple keepers this season who have stood on their heads. But we have to expect that every week . . . we have to be clinical, whether it’s our passing or our finishing.
“But we got the three points tonight, and if we can be clinical tomorrow, hopefully we get three points again.”
With just two goals against in five games, the Cascades are allowing the fewest goals per game in Canada West (0.4).
“I think last year we let in a lot more goals than we wanted to (19 in 12 games), and one of the main goals in the preseason was making sure we’re a team that’s hard to break down,” MacMillan said. “To have four clean sheets in five games, that’s tough to do.”