SOCCER WEEKEND PREVIEW: Cascades, Spartans clash in home-and-home set

Gurmaan Jhaj, Marianne Spring and the Cascades soccer teams face the Trinity Western Spartans this week.

It’s local derby weekend for the University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams, as they lock horns with the Trinity Western Spartans in a home-and-home set.

The Cascades and Spartans meet on TWU’s Langley campus on Friday, then head back to Abbotsford for Sunday afternoon matches at MRC Sports Complex.

WSOC: Cascades put five-match undefeated streak on the line vs. Spartans

Friday: Cascades (4-2-2, 4th in Pacific Division) at Trinity Western Spartans (6-2-0, 3rd in Pacific Division), 5 p.m., Chase Office Field

Sunday: Cascades vs. Spartans, 2 p.m., MRC Sports Complex, Field 4

Webcast: canadawest.tv

The Cascades’ bread and butter of late has been their defensive prowess. Until allowing a penalty-kick goal in the second half of last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with UBC Okanagan, head coach Rob Giesbrecht’s squad had been riding a four-match shutout streak that stretched a total of 423 minutes.

UFV’s defence will be tested this weekend against a high-powered Spartans squad whose 17 goals through eight games are tied for second-most in Canada West.

“I’m excited to see our team compete in this local derby,” Giesbrecht said. “They’re always competitive, spirited games, and I think the players really enjoy playing in them. We know it’s going to be a tough challenge to get points, both away and at home, against a team that’s traditionally been at or near the top of Canada West women’s soccer. They have a lot of weapons going forward, so we’ll have to find ways to deal with that and be more assertive in our attacking play.”

Players to watch: The Cascades’ four clean sheets are tied for second-most in Canada West, and senior goalkeeper Emily Harold has notched three of them. (The fourth was shared with rookie Joven Sandhu, as both keepers played half the game.) Harold will be tested by a Spartans attack led by fourth-year forward Seina Kashima, who picked up Canada West third star of the week honours after notching two goals and an assist in a 5-0 win over Thompson Rivers last Saturday.

MSOC: Points at a premium for Cascades

Friday: Cascades (3-5-2, 6th in Pacific Division) at Trinity Western Spartans (5-3-4, 3rd in Pacific Division), 7:15 p.m., Chase Office Field

Sunday: Cascades vs. Spartans, 4 p.m., MRC Sports Complex, Field 4

Webcast: canadawest.tv

There’s no shortage of motivation for either team this weekend. With just six games left on their conference schedule, the Cascades need to climb the Pacific Division standings in a hurry in order to secure a top-four finish and a playoff berth. The Spartans, meanwhile, are coming off a tough weekend on the road – they lost 1-0 at UBC Okanagan on Saturday, and settled for a 3-3 tie at Thompson Rivers on Sunday after leading 3-0 with 15 minutes left in regulation.

“It’s always a big game – we’ve had some crackers between us the past couple years,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said, reflecting on the local rivalry. “We’re getting towards the business end of the season, and we need to pick up points. They’ve had a good start to their season, but they’ll be fired up considering how their results went last weekend.”

Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year goalkeeper David Hicks turned in arguably his best performance of the season last Saturday, making a series of highlight-reel stops to pace UFV a 2-1 road win over Thompson Rivers. At the opposite end of the pitch for the Spartans, Sebastian Colyn is having an outstanding rookie campaign – he was the U SPORTS male athlete of the week last week and has four clean sheets on the season.

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Indigenizing at UFV

The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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