It’s the stretch drive of the Canada West soccer season, and the University of the Fraser Valley men’s and women’s teams have huge games this weekend as they jockey for playoff position.
The Cascades women’s squad is at home for a pair of games vs. the Saskatchewan Huskies (Friday) and the Regina Cougars (Saturday). Saturday is Senior Night, featuring a pregame ceremony to honour six graduating players.
The UFV men, meanwhile, head to Prince George for a Friday-Saturday twin bill vs. the UNBC Timberwolves.
WSOC: Cascades look to recapture momentum vs. Prairie foes
Friday: Cascades (4-4-2, 5th in Pacific Division) vs. Saskatchewan Huskies (5-2-3, 2nd in Prairie Division), 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades vs. Regina Cougars (0-5-5, T-7th in Prairie Division), 5:30 p.m.
MRC Sports Complex
The Cascades took a five-game undefeated streak into last weekend’s home-and-home vs. Trinity Western, but dropped both games to the Spartans. They’ll look to get back on track against a pair of Saskatchewan programs.
Friday’s opponent, the Saskatchewan Huskies, finished sixth at U SPORTS nationals last season and are in the midst of another solid campaign. The Cougars, meanwhile, are still seeking their first conference win of the season, but they’ve turned in some promising performances, including a 1-1 draw with the Huskies last week.
“Both teams will be organized, both teams will be athletic,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “We’ve got to really focus on playing the game to our strengths. We need to play with belief in ourselves individually and as a group. It’s been an up-and-down year, and we’re confident our team is learning lessons as we go through.”
Players to watch: On Saturday, the Cascades will be celebrating the careers of six players who have spent five years in the program: goalkeepers Emily Harold and Risa Venuto, defender Karlee Pedersen, midfielders Amber Korner and Desiree Caruso, and forward Amanda Carruthers. For the Huskies, fifth-year forward Leesa Eggum is having a banner campaign – she’s tied for fourth in the conference with nine points (six goals, three assists). The Cougars are led by a senior forward of their own: Brianna Wright’s five points (one goal, four assists) pace the squad.
MSOC: Cascades aim to boost playoff prospects vs. UNBC
Friday: Cascades (4-6-2, 7th in Pacific Division) at UNBC Timberwolves (4-5-5, 5th in Pacific), 5 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades at Timberwolves, 5 p.m.
With four regular-season games remaining and needing to overhaul three teams in order to secure a top-four finish in the Pacific Division and an accompanying playoff berth, this weekend’s games in Prince George are virtual must-wins for the Cascades. They kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win last Sunday vs. Trinity Western, and will look to build on that performance against UNBC.
The fifth-place T-Wolves, though, have playoff aspirations of their own.
“It’s the biggest weekend of the season,” UFV bench boss Tom Lowndes noted. “We’ve given ourselves a chance in the last couple weeks with some of the results we’ve gotten. Prince George is a tough place to go, and we’ll have to be ready and prepared to fight for our playoff lives, if you will.”
Players to watch: Lowndes moved Gurmaan Jhaj from his usual holding midfield spot into an attacking role last Sunday vs. TWU, and the third-year standout was productive there, setting up Brady Weir for the game’s first goal. Jhaj’s 15 shots this season lead the Cascades, and his three points (one goal, two assists) are second-most on the team. Senior midfielder Tofa Fakunle has been the most dangerous Timberwolf this season, registering two goals and four assists thus far.