Playoff games for the University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams – including a home date for the women vs. the Victoria Vikes – are the highlights on a busy weekend which sees seven Cascades squads in action.
WSOC: Cascades, Vikes renew playoff rivalry
Saturday: Cascades (9-2-3, 2nd in Pacific Division) vs. Victoria Vikes (5-5-4, 5th in Pacific), 5 p.m.
MRC Sports Complex, Field 4
Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv
The Cascades and Vikes women’s soccer programs have carved out a remarkable playoff rivalry in recent years – Saturday’s game at MRC Sports Complex marks the fourth time in five years that the two teams have clashed in the first round. The Vikes eliminated the Cascades in 2012 and 2015, and UFV ended the Vikes’ season in 2014 en route to a Canada West silver medal and a fourth-place finish at nationals.
UFV, No. 8 in the U Sports national ranking, has home field advantage for this edition of the duel, but that factor hasn’t proven predictive – each of the past two years, the lower-seeded team has pulled off an upset on the road.
“We’ve done well against them this year, but that means nothing going into this game,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht asserted. “It’s a one-game winner-take-all. We’ll be ready.”
The Cascades boast the second-most prolific offence in Canada West with 34 goals in 14 regular-season games, led by Monika Levarsky (10 goals, six assists), Amanda Carruthers (seven goals, two assists), Gurneet Dhaliwal (five goals, four assists) and Danica Kump (three goals, seven assists). Centre back Tristan Corneil leads a sturdy defence in front of goalkeeper Kayla Klim (four shutouts in 11 starts).
Midfielder Sarah Douglas (three goals, four assists) paced the Vikes offensively during the regular season, and fifth-year keeper Meaghan Storie posted five clean sheets for a stingy defensive squad.
Admission will be charged for Saturday’s game. Ticket prices will be $7 for adults and $3 for seniors, visiting students and UFV faculty/staff/alumni. UFV students and children six years of age and younger will be admitted free.
MSOC: Cascades open post-season on the road vs. Dinos
Saturday: Cascades (8-6-2, 3rd in Pacific Division) at Calgary Dinos (9-4-3, 2nd in Prairie Division), 2:15 p.m. MDT
University of Calgary, West Varsity Pitch
No webcast available; live stats at canadawest.org
The Cascades men’s soccer team hits the road for their first-round playoff game, but the scenario is hardly foreign to them. They opened the post-season away from home each of the previous three years, and pulled off modest upsets in 2013 and 2015 on their way to winning a pair of Canada West bronze medals.
UFV head coach Tom Lowndes said that last year’s 4-3 quarter-final road win over the Alberta Golden Bears is still fresh in his team’s mind.
“Psychologically for us, that’s a big one,” he said. “We went to Alberta last year and we upset them, if you like, and that gives us confidence we can go on the road in the playoffs and get results. We’re looking to do the same thing this weekend.”
The Cascades and Dinos did not meet during the 2016 regular season, but Calgary’s reputation as an explosive offensive squad precedes them. They led Canada West with 45 goals in 16 games, led by forwards Dominic Russo (15 goals, nine assists) and Bori Falaye (seven goals, five assists) and midfielder Jorge Leon Gomez (six goals, three assists).
The Cascades, meanwhile, are most successful when they’re sound defensively. Seven of UFV’s program-record eight regular-season wins were via clean sheet, and the Cascades also earned an additional shutout in a 0-0 draw vs. UBC. Keepers Alex Skrzeta (five shutouts) and David Hicks (three shutouts) thrived behind a backline led by Tammer Byrne. Offensively, Justin Sekhon (five goals, one assist), James Najman (four goals, two assists) and Daniel Davidson (three goals, two assists) were the most productive Cascades in the regular season.
“It’s a playoff game, and you’re playing the best of the best,” Lowndes noted. “The amount of goals Calgary scored this year, they’re going to be dangerous. We’ve shown this year that when we defend well and defend as a unit, teams find us tough to break down. We’re going to have to be at our defensive best this weekend in order to give ourselves a good chance when we have the ball.”
MBB: Cascades host Laurier in preseason finale
Sunday: Cascades vs. Laurier Golden Hawks, 3 p.m.
Envision Athletic Centre
The Cascades men’s basketball team is at home on Sunday for its last preseason game of the fall. They’re taking on the Golden Hawks of Wilfred Laurier University.
The Waterloo, Ont. program finished 9-11 in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference play last season, and they’ve spent a significant portion of their preseason traveling to play Canada West squads. They went 1-2 on a road trip through Manitoba earlier this month, with losses to the Manitoba Bisons and Winnipeg Wesmen to go with a win over the Brandon Bobcats. Their weekend jaunt to B.C. sees them face the UBC Thunderbirds (Friday) and the UNBC Timberwolves (Saturday) at a preseason tourney hosted by UBC, followed by Sunday’s trip to Abbotsford.
Cascades head coach Adam Friesen noted that his squad expects to have guard Vijay Dhillon and forward Mark Johnson back in the lineup after injury-related absences in the preseason.
“It should be our first time playing with our full roster, so we’re excited about seeing how that looks,” Friesen said. “We’ve got to keep building on what we’re doing.”
The Cascades basketball programs open the Canada West regular season Nov. 4-5 at home vs. the Saskatchewan Huskies.
WBB: Cascades wrap up preseason at Victoria tournament
Friday: Cascades vs. Regina Cougars, 12 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades vs. Calgary Dinos, 12 p.m.
CARSA Performance Gym, University of Victoria
The Cascades women’s hoopsters have had a busy preseason, having played 11 non-conference games to date, and they wrap it up this weekend against a pair of very good Canada West programs at an exhibition tourney hosted by the Victoria Vikes.
Head coach Al Tuchscherer’s charges face the Regina Cougars on Friday and the Calgary Dinos on Saturday at the CARSA Performance Gym.
Tuchscherer noted that the Cascades have “a real shorthanded roster right now” – fifth-year guard/forward Kayli Sartori and rookie guard Victoria Jacobse were sidelined due to injury last weekend as UFV faced the Lewis-Clark State Warriors on the road, and their status is questionable for this weekend.
“We have a lot of players who are learning how to play in key roles that maybe they’re not quite ready for quite yet, but in the long term I think that’s going to serve us well,” he said. “This weekend we have two top-flight CIS programs in Regina and Calgary, and it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
Wrestling: Cascades open season at Dinos Invitational
Friday and Saturday: Dinos Invitational, 6 p.m. start on Friday
Jack Simpson Gymnasium, University of Calgary
The Cascades wrestling program is off to Calgary for their first Canada West tournament of the season.
UFV co-head coaches Raj Virdi and Arjan Bhullar have a youthful roster on their hands this season, and they’re excited to see them test their skills in conference competition.
“It’s good that we finally get to start our season,” Virdi enthused. “This year, it’ll be different because a lot of our kids are first-years. They’ll have to get used to what university wrestling is like. It’ll be an eye-opener for a lot of the younger guys.”
Among the Cascades’ veterans, Brad Hildenbrandt (men’s 130 kg) and Pravi Dhaliwal (women’s 63 kg) figure to be top contenders this weekend.
MVB: First road trip takes Cascades to face Mariners
Friday: Cascades (3-0, 3rd in PACWEST) at VIU Mariners (4-0, T-1st in PACWEST), 8 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades at Mariners, 3 p.m.
The Cascades volleyball teams hit the road for the first time in PACWEST regular-season play – they take the ferry over to Nanaimo to clash with the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
The UFV-VIU men’s games are particularly intriguing, as both teams are undefeated at this early stage of the season.
“It’s definitely a challenge to go on the road,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen noted. “VIU has been a tough gym for us to play in the last few years I’ve been here, and it would definitely feel good to get a win there. And right now, they look to be one of, if not the strongest team in the league this year.
“From what I’ve seen so far from video, they look to be a pretty experienced group. They’ll definitely be a challenge for us, but after two solid weekends, we’re looking to get better and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
The Cascades have gotten great production from their outside hitters, with Joel Kleingeltink (4.70 total points per set, third in PACWEST), Ben Friesen (3.0, T-8th) and Nick Bruce (3.0, T-8th) all ranking in the top 10 in the conference in total points per set. The top two players in that statistic are both Mariners – Braydon Brouwer (5.42) and Zach Grigg (5.27).
WVB: Cascades take on defending national champs
Friday: Cascades (1-2, T-4th in PACWEST) at VIU Mariners (3-1, 2nd in PACWEST), 6 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades at Mariners, 1 p.m.
The Cascades face a huge test, as they visit the defending CCAA national champion Mariners. UFV head coach Mike Gilray said that the looming challenge vs. VIU provides great incentive for his players to be engaged in practice this week and at their best on the weekend.
“I’d like to think this is a good barometer of where we want to be,” he said. “This is our third weekend, and they’re one of the top teams in our division. Road trips are always fun, and can help build some cohesiveness with the team . . . it’s a great time for everyone to connect.”
The Cascades have unique potential to make life extremely tough for opposing defences with their serving. Middle Monique Huber and setter Jessica Funk are tied for the PACWEST lead in aces per set at 0.80. Huber is the top Cascade in terms of total offence, averaging 3.10 points per set, good for 10th overall.
The Mariners boast the top two players in PACWEST in terms of total offence – Andrea Cankovic (4.36 points per set) and Mikayla Wagner (4.36).