In a game of wild momentum swings, the UFV Cascades and Victoria Vikes ended up locked in a 2-2 tie at MRC Sports Complex on Friday evening.
Fifth-year forward Amanda Carruthers scored both goals for the host Cascades (0-0-1) in their Canada West regular-season opener, while the Vikes (1-0-1) got goals from Caitlin Millham and Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez.
The two teams are both back in action on Saturday evening – the Cascades hosting the UBC Thunderbirds (5:30 p.m., MRC Sports Complex), and the Vikes visiting the Trinity Western Spartans (5 p.m.). Both games can be viewed online at CanadaWest.tv.
“I’m proud of our fight today,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward. “We’re a new team – very young, very inexperienced. But I love the fact that we battled hard for the 90 minutes.”
It took the lion’s share of the first half to produce a goal, and it was the Vikes who broke through in the 41st minute. The visitors played a long pass ahead to the top of the Cascades’ 18-yard box, and goalkeeper Emily Harold collided with a teammate as she came out to play the ball. Both UFV players hit the ground, but Millham remained upright and slotted the ball home.
The Cascades responded in auspicious fashion, equalizing less than a minute later. Brittney Zacharuk played a ball ahead and Carruthers gave chase. Vikes goalkeeper Puck Louwes beat Carruthers to the ball, but her clearing attempt went off the onrushing UFV striker and rolled in.
Carruthers made it 2-1 in the 57th minute. Off a Cascades corner, Zacharuk tracked down the ball and sent it to Harneet Dadrao on the left wing, and the rookie midfielder played a gorgeous cross to Carruthers for a close-range finish at the far post.
The Vikes equalized in the 68th through Badilla Gutierrez, who found a seam in the UFV defence, took a pass from Emily Lieuwen, and deposited a low shot past Harold.
Giesbrecht felt it was a rather ragged performance from his squad, but noted the work rate was there, led by Carruthers.
“Amanda has a great engine – she works and she works and she works, and she’s a goal-scorer,” he said. “The first goal was just pure hard work, and the second goal was getting to a good area. And what a ball by Harneet Dadrao on that cross . . . that’s a kid with a very bright future.”
“It felt good to score two goals,” Carruthers said. “The first one was a bit of a grind, which was a main focus of ours – we want to get those greasy goals. On the second goal, Harneet had fantastic service, and that’s something we’ve been working on a lot – that service into the box and finishing.”
Giesbrecht directed additional praise to fullbacks Kelsey Mitchell and Karlee Pedersen, and to sophomore holding midfielder Marianne Spring who was making her first-ever Canada West start.