T-Birds pull away in second half, knock off Cascades 3-1

The UBC Thunderbirds pulled away down the stretch on Saturday evening, earning a 3-1 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades in Canada West women’s soccer action at MRC Sports Complex.

Rookies dominated the scoresheet on this night – UBC’s Danielle Steer and UFV’s Sarah Parker both notched their first goals in conference play. Steer, in fact, scored twice, and Jasmin Dhanda also tallied for the visitors.

The Thunderbirds improved to 2-1-0, while the Cascades (0-1-1) suffered their first loss of the young season.

“I think we showed a little bit of inexperience today,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “Once the second goal went in against us, we couldn’t get a hold of the ball again. To their credit, they possessed it well, they made us chase, and our legs probably just weren’t there to get over that final hurdle at the end. But super-proud of the girls for how hard they fought.”

The Cascades generated the first good look at goal – in the fifth minute, Mackenzie Toop fired a sharp-angle shot from the left which went just wide of the far post.

The Thunderbirds found increasing traction as the half wore on, and Dhanda came within inches of giving the visitors the lead when she banged a shot off the crossbar in the 30th minute.

Simi Lehal was the Cascades’ game MVP on Saturday.

But less than two minutes later, UBC had their goal. A Cascades foul just inside the right border of the box yielded a penalty kick, and Steer stepped to the spot and sent a shot into the bottom corner.

UBC’s one-goal edge persisted into halftime, but the Cascades equalized roughly 90 seconds after play resumed. A quickly taken free kick by Amanda Carruthers seemed to catch the T-Birds’ defence off-guard, and Parker, from a tight angle, curved a picture-perfect strike over the outstretched arms of UBC keeper Emily Moore and just inside the far post.

Dhanda’s go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute was a near carbon copy of Parker’s – the main difference being, her shot came from the left of the box and found the far post beyond Cascades keeper Emily Harold.

Steer’s second of the game, in the 83rd minute, put the game out of reach for the U SPORTS No. 4-ranked T-Birds.

Sophomore defender Simi Lehal was the Cascades’ game MVP, and fellow backliners Karlee Pedersen, Kelsey Mitchell and Jasmine Mangat also earned praise from Giesbrecht.

“We were missing a few kids tonight, but I’m proud of the character we showed and really optimistic looking forward,” he said. “Our girls are learning what it takes to play these teams. We’ve got to learn our lessons from these tough games and go forward, and try to minimize our mistakes. But we’re out there, we’re battling hard, and we’re not afraid to make mistakes which I like. We’re going for it. I think we’ve got a bright future ahead of us.”

The Cascades hit the road next weekend, facing the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday and the Calgary Dinos on Sunday.

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