SOCCER WEEKEND PREVIEW: Women’s soccer hosts TRU and UBCO, men’s team hits the road

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team returns to MRC Sports Complex this weekend for their first home games in three weeks, while the Cascades men’s squad embarks on a road trip.

WSOC: Cascades look to maintain stout defensive performance

The Cascades women’s soccer team is looking for more reasons to celebrate this weekend, as they seek to boost their offensive productivity. (UFV Athletics file photos)

Friday: Cascades (3-2-1, 5th in Pacific Division) vs. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (1-5-0, 7th in Pacific Division), 5:30 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (0-5-1, 8th in Pacific), 5:30 p.m.

MRC Sports Complex, Field 4

Webcast: canadawest.tv

The Cascades women’s soccer squad looks to boost its playoff stock at home this weekend, taking on a pair of teams from the B.C. Interior who have struggled to collect wins this season to date.

Head coach Rob Giesbrecht’s squad has been lights-out defensively of late – their current three-game win streak is comprised entirely of shutouts. It’s at the other end of the pitch where the Cascades need to be more efficient.

“We need to continue to do the things we’ve done over the last three games really well, which is being defensively sound and eliminating our opponents’ chances,” Giesbrecht said. “We’ve had a mindset that we need to earn all the points we’re going to get.

“What we’re looking for is to create more chances. We want to see if we can be a little more ruthless in our attack and make life more difficult for our opponents.”

Players to watch: Cascades sophomore Simi Lehal has undertaken a positional change this season, shifting from forward to centre back. She’s embraced her new role, and is fast becoming one of Canada West’s most dynamic defenders. Last weekend, she registered a goal and an assist to pace the Cascades to wins over the MacEwan Griffins and UNBC Timberwolves. TRU rookie midfielder Camryn Curtis will be one for Lehal and the UFV backline to keep tabs on – she’s leading the WolfPack with two goals in five games. Fifth-year midfielder Andrea Stinson has been the top offensive performer for UBC Okanagan, registering a goal, an assist and seven shots on goal in six games.

MSOC: Cascades head to Interior to face WolfPack, Heat

Tyler Henderson and the Cascades are on the road this weekend.

Saturday: Cascades (2-4-2, 7th in Pacific Division) at Thompson Rivers WolfPack (4-1-4, 3rd in Pacific Division), 12 p.m.

Sunday: Cascades at UBC Okanagan Heat (3-3-1, 4th in Pacific), 3 p.m.

Webcast: canadawest.tv

The Cascades have work to do in order to secure a playoff spot, and they’ll look to make headway this weekend on the road against a pair of Pacific Division foes.

These games are the first repeat engagements for the UFV men in 2017, having faced both the TRU WolfPack and UBCO Heat earlier this season at home. They defeated the Heat 2-0 on Sept. 8, but fell 4-2 to the WolfPack the following evening.

“Even though we’re playing these teams a second time, you can throw the first results out the window,” Lowndes noted.

“We’ve got to be better defensively against TRU. We need to match their physical battle – we got outworked and outmuscled when we played them at home. We need to defend well individually and as a unit.

“With UBCO, we need to build off the positives from when we played them at home – really stifle them and keep them from being a threat against us.”

Players to watch: Cascades sophomore right back Ryan Donald, UFV’s male rookie of the year across all sports last season, gave the team a boost last weekend when he returned to the lineup after missing the first six games due to injury. His skill on the ball and steady defensive presence will be crucial as UFV tries to shut down the likes of TRU’s Mitchell Popadynetz. The fourth-year midfielder leads Canada West in both assists (seven) and points (10), to go with three goals. UBCO’s midfield playmaker is Nikhil Reddy – his four assists are tied for third-most in the conference.

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