Soccer/basketball weekend preview: Cascades soccer teams hit the road, hoopsters continue preseason

Playoff implications loom large for the University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams as they head out on their last road trips of the Canada West regular season. The Cascades basketball teams, meanwhile, continue their preseason preparations with local exhibition games.

MSOC: Critical road games for Cascades

Connor MacMillan (14) and the Cascades men's soccer team are looking to secure a playoff berth this weekend.

Connor MacMillan (14) and the Cascades men’s soccer team are looking to secure a playoff berth this weekend.

Saturday: Cascades (5-6-1, T-3rd in Pacific Division) at UBC Okanagan Heat (4-6-2, 5th in Pacific), 1 p.m.

Sunday: Cascades at Thompson Rivers WolfPack (5-6-1, T-3rd in Pacific), 1 p.m.

Webcast (pay-per-view):

This weekend’s games are critical to the Cascades’ playoff fate. They’re in the hunt for one of four Pacific Division post-season berths, and are currently tied for third place on points with the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, their opponent on Sunday. The UBC Okanagan Heat, Saturday’s foe, are just two points back in fifth place.

Head coach Tom Lowndes’s charges had success against both teams in Abbotsford earlier this year, defeating TRU 1-0 on Sept. 2 and beating UBCO 3-0 on Sept. 3, and will be looking to produce similar results away from home.

“To say it’s a big weekend is a massive understatement,” Lowndes acknowledged. “It’s going to be a battle. I think the fact we had some success against them earlier in the year goes out the window. It’s an away game, and it’s never easy to play up there. They’re fighting for their playoff lives just like we are.

“We need to put in a 90-minute performances, we need to be more assertive going forward, and we need to have more of a killer instinct in front of the goal.”

Players to watch: Third-year forward/midfielder Daniel Davidson has been a key cog in the Cascades’ attack this season – with three goals and an assist, he’s tied for the team lead in points with Justin Sekhon, and he picked up player of the game honours in last Friday’s 4-1 win over first-place Trinity Western. UBCO has struggled to score goals, with just nine in 12 games this season, but they have a standout keeper in fourth-year Mitch McCaw, who ranks fourth in Canada West with a .786 save percentage to go with four shutouts. Thompson Rivers, conversely, boasts the conference’s third-most prolific offence (1.67 goals per game), and second-year midfielder Justin Donaldson (eight goals, one assist) has led the charge. He was the Canada West third star of the week after notching two goals and an assist in a sweep of UBCO last weekend.

WSOC: Cascades aim to secure playoff seeding

Fifth-year midfielder Sunayna Samra and the Cascades are taking on a pair of traditional powerhouses on the road.

Fifth-year midfielder Sunayna Samra and the Cascades are taking on a pair of traditional powerhouses on the road.

Friday: Cascades (6-2-2, 2nd in Pacific Division) at Victoria Vikes (5-2-3, 5th in Pacific), 5 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades at UBC Thunderbirds (5-1-4, 4th in Pacific), 5 p.m.

Webcast (pay-per-view):

The CIS No. 9-ranked Cascades women’s soccer team, having already clinched a playoff berth, takes on a pair of formidable foes who are chasing them in the standings.

Earlier this season, head coach Rob Giesbrecht’s squad claimed four of a possible six points at home against their weekend opponents, tying defending national champion UBC 2-2 on Sept. 16 and blanking UVic 3-0 on Sept. 17. A similar set of results – or better – would go a long way towards securing home-field advantage for the first round of the Canada West playoffs.

“We’re excited to go play some divisional rivals away from home,” Giesbrecht said. “It’ll be a challenge for us to replicate the success we had earlier in the season against these teams. We know it’s going to be tough – we have a lot of respect for these programs.”

Players to watch: Cascades fifth-year midfielder Danica Kump had a productive offensive performance last Friday against No. 2-ranked Trinity Western, notching a goal and an assist in a highly entertaining game that the Spartans won 3-2. She’s tied for third on the team in points with six (two goals, four assists). Midfielder Sarah Douglas has paced the UVic attack with three goals and four assists, while UBC forward Jasmin Dhanda (nine goals, seven assists and a Canada West-leading 58 shots) has proven her quality as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the conference.

WBB: Cascades face Thunderbirds on the road, Blues at home

Kate Head and the Cascades women's hoopsters face UBC away and Capilano at home in exhibition action.

Kate Head and the Cascades women’s hoopsters face UBC away and Capilano at home in exhibition action.

Friday: Cascades at UBC Thunderbirds, 6 p.m., War Memorial Gymnasium

Saturday: Cascades vs. Capilano Blues, 11 a.m., Envision Athletic Centre

Coming off three games against elite CIS foes at the Cougar Classic exhibition tournament in Regina last weekend, the Cascades women’s hoopsters continue their preseason gauntlet with a road game at the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday. It’s a rematch of last season’s hard-fought first-round playoff series, which was won by the T-Birds.

On Saturday, the Cascades return home to take on a PACWEST squad, the Capilano Blues, in an 11 a.m. start at the Envision Athletic Centre.

“It’s an important week for us, coming off the Regina tournament, to get a good week of practice in and play another quality CIS program in UBC, and see if we can make some strides from week to week,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “And Cap is arguably the team to beat in PACWEST this year, and they’ll provide a good test for us as well. Another opportunity for us to get better.”

MBB: Men’s hoopsters face first CIS foe of preseason

Centre Matt Cooley and the Cascades welcome the Lethbridge Pronghorns to the EAC this weekend.

Centre Matt Cooley and the Cascades welcome the Lethbridge Pronghorns to the EAC this weekend.

Saturday: Cascades vs. Lethbridge Pronghorns, 7 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre

This weekend’s home game vs. Lethbridge marks the first preseason action against a CIS opponent for the Cascades men’s basketball team. With head coach Adam Friesen assimilating seven newcomers into his 12-man active roster this season, it’s another opportunity for this group to build chemistry and define roles.

The Pronghorns are coming off a season which saw them qualify for the Canada West playoffs with a 12-8 record, and they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by UBC.

“We’re excited,” Friesen said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’re excited to go up against our first CIS competition. Lethbridge is a really good team, so we know we’re going to be tested.”

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