The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team was on even footing at halftime against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, but the UBC Thunderbirds scored a pair of second-half goals to edge the Cascades 2-0 on Friday in Vancouver.
The T-Birds got goals from Rylan Sangha in the 52nd minute and from Thomas Gardner in the 59th, and weathered some late UFV chances to remain undefeated at 11-0-2. The Cascades fell to 6-5-1, but remain third in the Pacific Division.
“We’ve lost to a very good team tonight,” noted UFV head coach Tom Lowndes, whose team had earned a 1-1 draw against UBC back on Aug. 31. “We kept them scoreless in the first half, and I thought we limited their chances and executed our game plan really well. The first 20 minutes of the second half, we gave them too much space in the midfield. We should have dealt with the first goal better, and the second goal, a kid’s pinged one in from 25 yards out. We gave him (Gardner) three free kicks in dangerous areas, and eventually he’s going to put one away.
“But we never quit. We created some chances, and if one of those goes in, the game gets very interesting. I have no doubt the boys will be ready to go tomorrow.”
Fifth-year goalkeeper Alex Skrzeta earned his third start of the campaign for the Cascades and registered six saves on the night, including four in the first half to keep the game scoreless heading to the break.
Sangha broke the ice on the shot into the bottom left corner, and Gardner made it 2-0 on an outstanding free kick into the top left corner.
Cascades freshman Trevor Zanatta came close in the 72nd minute, but his header went off the bar. Later on, Canada West scoring leader Gurmaan Jhaj played a tidy ball into the feet of Parman Minhas, and he had a crack at goal but his shot went just over the UBC net.
UFV’s Tammer Byrne and UBC’s Connor Guilherme were their teams’ respective players of the game.
The Cascades continue their road trip Saturday, facing the Victoria Vikes in the provincial capital (7:15 p.m., CanadaWest.tv)
– with files from UBC Athletics