The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team punched its playoff ticket in dramatic fashion, as Andrew Peat’s goal in second-half injury time sent the Cascades past the UNBC Timberwolves 1-0.
Playing at MRC Sports Complex on Friday evening, Peat sent the home fans into hysterics, leaping to head home a picture-perfect cross from Parman Minhas at the left post, just out of the reach of UNBC keeper Rob Goodey, who had turned aside 11 previous UFV shots on the night.
The victory boosts the Cascades’ record to 7-6-1, and they leapfrog the Timberwolves (5-4-5) for third place in the Pacific Division. More importantly, they can no longer be caught by fifth-place Thompson Rivers or sixth-place Victoria in the race for the division’s four playoff berths.
UFV and UNBC lock horns again on Saturday in the Canada West regular-season finale for both teams (6:30 p.m., MRC Sports Complex).
“When you score a 90th-minute winner, it’s a fantastic way to win a game – there’s nothing better,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes, whose team outshot the T-Wolves 23-9. “But I thought we deserved it tonight. We were really good for large parts of the game. . . . We just couldn’t seem to put one away. It’s a credit to this team that they have that fight and belief that we’ll keep going until the last minute of the game. It was obviously fantastic to get the win at the end.”
The Cascades had the lion’s share of possession over the first 25 minutes on Friday, but Goodey and the T-Wolves were up to the task. UFV got a good chance in the ninth minute when Minhas got on the end of Gurmaan Jhaj’s free kick, but Goodey was there for the save. Moments later, Minhas ventured into the box on the counterattack, but Goodey denied him again.
The T-Wolves found some traction as the half wore on, and Owen Stewart and Jonah Smith both sent headers over the crossbar.
Early in the second half, Smith had another great look at goal, but Cascades keeper David Hicks dove to his left to make the stop. At the other end, Peat sent a terrific cross in from the left and Jhaj got his foot on it from point-blank range, but Goodey made an outstanding reflexive save to tip it over the bar.
Goodey continued to stand tall, diving to stop David Parfett’s drive in the 69th minute and stymieing Minhas yet again in the 77th.
The T-Wolves had a great chance in the 86th when a cross from the left found its way to Michael Henman at the far side of the goal, but his volley went off a teammate in front.
That set the stage for Peat, who came through with a terrific finish for his fifth goal of the season.
The result sends the Cascades back to the Canada West playoffs after a one-year absence – they had been post-season qualifiers for four consecutive years (2013-2016) before missing out last season.
“I thought it was a really good team effort tonight,” Lowndes summarized. “You can see there at the end how much it means to the boys. They’re a really close-knit group, and it was really great to see.”