Cascades soccer women surge ahead in second half to extinguish Heat

Vanita Bhullar of the Cascades clashes with a UBC Okanagan foe on Saturday in Kelowna. (UBC Okanagan photos)

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team picked up a crucial road win on Saturday afternoon, downing the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-1 in Kelowna.

The Cascades took a 1-0 lead into halftime on Simi Lehal’s goal in the 12th minute, but the host Heat equalized on a Jessica Ambrosio marker just six minutes after play resumed. The UFV side stuck with it, though, and were rewarded in the 77th minute when Meghan Rose converted a feed from Brittney Zacharuk for her first career Canada West goal. Zacharuk got the insurance marker in the 83rd, scoring directly from a corner kick.

The result allowed the Cascades (2-3-2) to leapfrog the Heat (2-4-1) for fifth place in the Pacific Division.

“They’re an improving team, but we were very well-prepared,” said UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht, whose team outshot UBC Okanagan 17-6. “Our pressing was effective, and we were able to cause problems. And our set pieces were excellent.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with the effort, and it’s nice to get back to winning. The challenge for us is, can we do better than last week (when the Cascades split a pair of games vs. UNBC and MacEwan) and do it on the second night of the weekend as well?”

The Cascades opened the scoring on Saturday after Gurneet Dhaliwal drew a foul just outside UBCO’s penalty area. Lehal stepped up and delivered a perfectly placed free kick, just inside the left post.

The Heat goal came after Jasmine Cooper sent a long, high cross that Ambosio was able to handle, turn, and fire past two defenders and Cascades keeper Joven Sandhu for her second goal of the season.

Zacharuk made a heads-up play to restore the UFV lead, stepping in front of a pass from UBCO goalkeeper Emma Terrillon and sliding a pass an unmarked Rose for the point-blank finish.

Zacharuk, the Cascades’ game MVP, salted away the win shortly thereafter, as her corner kick went in off the fingertips of Terrillon with UFV defenders Lehal and Marianne Spring lurking nearby. It was her third goal of the year.

Giesbrecht lauded the play of his young players who came in off the bench – Rose, Kailyn Halvorson and Tripat Sandhu among them. Rookie Vanita Bhullar also had a strong game in the midfield for the Cascades and keeper Sandhu registered three saves for her second win of the campaign.

The UFV women wrap up their road swing on Sunday in Kamloops vs. the TRU WolfPack (1 p.m.,

– with files from Cary Mellon, UBC Okanagan Athletics

Brittney Zacharuk (10) was UFV’s player of the game.

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