A less-than-stellar start gave way to a fantastic finish for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team, as they rallied for a 2-1 win over the Victoria Vikes on Friday evening in the B.C. capital.
The host Vikes opened the scoring in the first minute of play, courtesy Emily Lieuwen, but two goals from Monika Levarsky – in the 27th and 83rd minutes – gave the Cascades a comeback win in blustery conditions.
With the victory, UFV kept pace with the Alberta Pandas in the race for second place in the Pacific Division – the two teams have matching 7-2-2 records, though the Cascades own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating the Pandas 3-1 on Oct. 1. Fifth-place Victoria fell to 5-3-3.
The CIS No. 9-ranked Cascades wrap up their weekend road trip on Saturday against the No. 10 UBC Thunderbirds (5 p.m., Thunderbird Stadium, webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv).
“I’m really proud of the team today,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “It’s tough conditions, very windy, and we get scored on in the first minute. But we put the bit between our teeth and got at it. A team with less character might not come back in that situation.”
Lieuwen stunned the slow-starting Cascades, depositing a cross from teammate Olivia Swinton in the back of the net before 60 seconds had elapsed.
But UFV settled down, and had the run of play in the first half from the 10-minute mark on. The Vikes didn’t register a shot for the balance of the half, and Levarsky knotted the score off a feed from Danica Kump, pivoting around a defender and slotting the ball home from five yards out.
The second half was evenly contested in Giesbrecht’s estimation, but the Cascades got a spark when Simi Lehal came off the bench in the 79th minute. The rookie striker ignited the offence, shrugging off a defender and getting the ball to Levarsky, who took it into the penalty area and sent a low shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
Centre back Tristan Corneil, a first team Canada West all-star last season, had a typically outstanding game for the Cascades, and Giesbrecht also had plaudits for Gurneet Dhaliwal’s play on the ball and for the fleet-footed duo of Kump and Amanda Carruthers, who “ran miles.”
Levarsky, a third-year forward from Surrey, B.C., now has 10 goals in Canada West play, tied for first in the conference with Mollee Ramsay of the Calgary Dinos.
“It showed everything Monika is about – technical ability and brute force,” Giesbrecht said. “She’s a gamer, right? We need that finishing ability, that force up top. She’s a lot for our opponents to deal with, and it opens up things for our other players.”