Cascades limit No. 2-ranked T-Birds to scoreless draw

Cascades rookie defender Ryan Donald tangles with UBC's Titouan Chopin on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds)

Cascades rookie defender Ryan Donald tangles with UBC’s Titouan Chopin on Saturday. (Photos courtesy Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds)

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team earned a point on the road against the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, fashioning a scoreless draw against the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday evening at Thunderbird Stadium.

The Cascades were out-shot 7-2 by the host T-Birds, but keeper Alex Skrzeta and the UFV backline, led by Sukh Dhaliwal and Tammer Byrne, were up to the task.

UFV (2-1-1) maintained third place in the Pacific Division with a solid bounce-back effort in the wake of a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Victoria Vikes on Friday. UBC (4-0-2) stayed undefeated, and sits second in the Pacific.

The Cascades return to game action next weekend at home, as they welcome the MacEwan Griffins on Friday and the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday. Both games kick off at 8 p.m. at MRC Sports Complex, Field 4.

“We knew coming in it was going to be tough, and that they would want to keep the ball and cause us problems,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said of the T-Birds. “We defended for our life at times, but to get a result against a quality team is positive.

“We didn’t keep the ball or move it as well as we did last night, but we were playing a very good team. We’ll take the point and move on to next weekend.”

UFV's Sukh Dhaliwal (left) goes up for a header against UBC's Manpal Brar.

UFV’s Sukh Dhaliwal (left) goes up for a header against UBC’s Manpal Brar.

The Thunderbirds had the bulk of possession in the first half, firing five shots compared to the Cascades’ one, but came up empty. UFV found some traction late in the frame, and were more dangerous going forward in the second half.

In the dying seconds of second-half injury time, the Cascades had a great chance to steal a victory when Daniel Davidson got on the end of Brady Weir’s cross. But UBC keeper Jason Roberts leaped to tip Davidson’s header just over the bar.

Afterward, Lowndes noted that his team now has three clean sheets in four games, matching their total from the entire 2015 season.

“I think the players have bought into the shape and how we want to defend,” he analyzed. “It comes down to work rate, and tonight, Tammer and Sukh were fantastic. When the back four defends well, it starts with them, and the whole team pitches in. That’s pleasing.”

The T-Birds had scored an impressive 10 goals in their last three outings, and were held off the scoreboard for the first time this season. UBC head coach Mike Mosher commended the Cascades on a hard-fought game.

“[They’re] a good opponent. They typically are a difficult team to play against [and] keep things relatively tight in the back,” said Mosher. “That said, we created a couple chances [and] just couldn’t get on the end one of those crosses.”

– with files from Jeremy Laurie, UBC Thunderbirds communications

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