Dhaliwal, Cascades cruise past Vikes 3-0

For the second straight night, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team built a two-goal lead on their home pitch against a nationally ranked opponent.

But unlike Friday’s outing, which saw them settle for a 2-2 draw with the CIS No. 5-ranked UBC Thunderbirds after leading 2-0, the Cascades finished the job in decisive fashion, knocking off the No. 7 Victoria Vikes 3-0 at MRC Sports Complex on Saturday evening.

Sophomore striker Gurneet Dhaliwal scored twice in the first half – her third and fourth goals of the campaign – and rookie Simi Lehal notched her first career Canada West goal after the break. Monika Levarsky sparkled as a playmaker, picking up assists on all three Cascades goals, and keeper Kayla Klim made three saves en route to her second shutout of the season.

Karlee Pedersen of the Cascades rises for a header.

Karlee Pedersen of the Cascades rises for a header.

The result enabled UFV to move into a tie with the previously undefeated Vikes for second in the Pacific Division – both teams are 2-1-2.

“At the half, I told the girls we were up 2-0 and asked them if I needed to say anything more, and they said nope – they knew what they had to do,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward, reflecting on his team’s improved play with the lead on Saturday.

“Even with that, we came out a bit slugglish in the second half – it took us about five or 10 minutes before we got our foot on the ball a little bit more and started linking some passes. Once we got that third goal, we cruised in.”

Vikes keeper Meaghan Storie hadn’t allowed a goal in three previous starts this season, but the Cascades got to her in the 24th minute. Levarsky had the ball in the corner with two Vikes defenders closing in, but she made a sweet move along the goal line to get loose and slipped a slick pass to Dhaliwal, and she made no mistake, hammering the ball home from just above the penalty spot.

Dhaliwal struck again in the 38th minute, poking the ball home on a scramble in the box.

Lehal put the game out of reach in the 64th, with Levarsky once again the provider. The third-year forward fought off two Vikes defenders to slide the ball into the path of an on-rushing Lehal, and her first touch was a low shot into the back of the net.

“Last night we were up 2-0 and we thought we had it, so we started to (ease) off the gas pedal,” Dhaliwal said afterward. “That’s when it all went downhill. But we learned from that. Today when we were up two, we didn’t let down, and we kept going through the full 90 minutes which is what we talked about before the game.

“It was scrambly at first, but we got it together.”

The Cascades' Danica Kump battles for the ball with UVic's Mia Gunter.

The Cascades’ Danica Kump battles for the ball with UVic’s Mia Gunter.

Giesbrecht felt his team could have been tidier in possession, but he was pleased with their efficiency around the goal.

“Gurns is just special,” he said of Dhaliwal. “She’s got this ability to her where she can turn on a dime and shake a defender, find a pocket of space, and she’s a deadly finisher. She proved that today. I like what’s developing with our attacking players with Amanda (Carruthers), Monika and Gurns. They’re really starting to get an understanding with each other. We’re starting to see a lot of great assists, great creative attacking plays. Monika, with three assists today, was special.

“And Simi has a very bright future ahead of her. She’s an attacking force, and she can physically dominate a game.”

The Cascades hit the road next weekend for games at the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Sunday. The Vikes, meanwhile, visit the Alberta Pandas on Friday and the UNBC Timberwolves on Sunday.

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