Weekend soccer preview: Huge home games for Cascades

The University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams are at MRC Sports Complex this weekend for a slate of four pivotal Canada West home games.

WSOC: Cascades take on rivals UBC, UVic

Friday: UFV (1-1-1, 5th in Pacific Division) vs. UBC Thunderbirds (1-0-2, 3rd in Pacific), 5:30 p.m. PDT

Saturday: UFV vs. UVic Vikes (2-0-1, 2nd in Pacific), 5:30 p.m. PDT

MRC Sports Complex, Field 4

Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv

It’s a massive weekend for the Cascades women’s team, as they take on two high-profile divisional foes.

Friday’s opponent, the UBC Thunderbirds, are the reigning CIS national champions, but UFV has a recent history of success against them, and they were the only team to beat UBC in regular season or playoff action last year. Saturday’s guest, the UVic Vikes, knocked UFV out of last year’s Canada West playoffs in penalty kicks.

insta-sked-graphic-2-rectangles-3“It’s going to be nice to play some rivals at home,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “Opportunities like this bring out the best in us. I’m confident our group is going to rise to the occasion and put together two good performances, and do what we can to get the results to go our way.

“We host the national champions on Friday, and we host the team that knocked us out of the playoffs on penalties on Saturday. There’s no shortage of motivators this weekend. Both teams are very talented, both teams are well-coached, and both teams are historic powerhouses. But in the recent past, we’ve proven we can be successful against them, and we look forward to the challenge.”

Fifth-year centre back Tristan Corneil has been a rock for the Cascades in the early going this season, while forward Gurneet Dhaliwal is coming in hot, having scored in a pair of road games last weekend (a 1-1 draw at Regina, and a 4-0 win at Saskatchewan). Forward Monika Levarsky and midfielder Sunayna Samra are tied for third in Canada West with two assists apiece.

Visiting players to watch include UBC midfielder Rachel Jones, who leads her team offensively with a goal and an assist in three games, and UVic keeper Meaghan Storie, who has yet to surrender a goal in two starts this season.

MSOC: Cascades welcome Alberta foes

Friday: UFV (2-1-1, 3rd in Pacific Division) vs. MacEwan Griffins (0-3-1, T-5th in Prairie Division), 8 p.m. PDT

Saturday: UFV vs. Mount Royal Cougars (5-1-0, 2nd in Prairie), 8 p.m. PDT

MRC Sports Complex, Field 4

Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv

The weekend opponents for the Cascades men’s team are both relatively new Canada West members from the other side of the Rockies, but their on-field fortunes have been trending in different directions.

The MacEwan Griffins come in tied for fifth in the Prairie Division, while the Mount Royal Cougars are riding high in second place and even received a handful of votes in this week’s CIS Top 10 national poll.

insta-sked-graphic-2-rectangles-4The Cascades, meanwhile, are coming off a disappointing 2-1 road loss to the Victoria Vikes last Friday, but they bounced back with a strong defensive effort in a scoreless draw with the CIS No. 2-ranked UBC Thunderbirds the following evening.

“We’re excited to play this weekend,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said. “MacEwan and Mount Royal are teams we haven’t played in a while, and it’s exciting to face some new opposition with the schedule changes in the conference.

“To be successful, we need to get back to keeping the ball and moving with pace. And if we have the same type of defensive effort as we did against UBC on Saturday, it’ll put us in a good position.”

Just four games into the regular season, Cascades keepers Alex Skrzeta and David Hicks have combined for three clean sheets, matching the team’s total for all of last season. The centre back duo of Tammer Byrne and Sukh Dhaliwal has been instrumental in the team’s defensive efficiency, and fifth-year midfielder Justin Sekhon paces the UFV side with two goals.

For MacEwan, midfielder Lahai Mansaray and defender Samuel Foster are the co-scoring leaders with one goal apiece. Striker Cody Cook (three goals, two assists) and midfielder Yousaf Nazari (two goals, three assists) pace a prolific Mount Royal offence.

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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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