Spartans edge Cascades 3-2

The Trinity Western Spartans and University of the Fraser Valley Cascades went toe-to-toe in a Thanksgiving Sunday barnburner, with the Spartans clawing out a 3-2 victory at MRC Sports Complex.

Seina Kashima’s goal in the 64th minute stood up as the game-winner, and Elizabeth Hicks and Kathleen Chin also scored as the U SPORTS No. 3-ranked Spartans improved to 9-1-0.

Gurneet Dhaliwal and Marianne Spring replied for the Cascades (3-5-2), and reigning Canada West women’s athlete of the week Brittney Zacharuk notched two assists.

“It was different than Friday – it was more of a complete effort today,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said, alluding to the Cascades’ 3-1 loss to the Spartans on Friday in Langley. “I thought we wilted in the second half on Friday, and today I thought we defended quite a bit in the second half, but we were positive, we still worked hard, and we limited their opportunities. And we scored a goal and could have had another one. It’s tough, but I’m proud of them.”

The hosts got off to a flying start, opening the scoring in the fifth minute. Brittney Zacharuk sent a cross in from the left wing, and Gurneet Dhaliwal went airborne for a sensational left-footed finish from close range.

The Spartans drew even in the 29th, as Elizabeth Hicks rose to head home Seina Kashima’s corner kick.

A tough break for the Cascades led to a go-ahead goal for TWU in the 56th. UFV defender Taylor Nekic slipped on the wet turf in the box and slid into the Spartans’ Kathleen Chin. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Chin stepped up and sent her shot into the right side of the net.

The Cascades answered right back, leveling the score in the 59th. Zacharuk sent a corner in, and Cascades third-year centre back Marianne Spring soared for an emphatic header. It was Spring’s first career Canada West goal.

UFV’s Kelsey Mitchell (right) and Tavia Jasper clash with TWU’s Jenaya Robertson.

Kashima, though, restored the Spartans’ advantage in the 64th. UFV keeper Joven Sandhu came up with an outstanding initial stop on a close-range effort by Kashima, and the ball deflected out to the right wing. TWU’s Amy Gartke was there to send a cross back into the box for Kashima to finish. The fifth-year midfielder now leads Canada West in both assists (9) and points (16) and is tied for second in goals (7).

The Cascades had a couple good looks to tie the game once again. Spring nearly reprised her earlier goal, connecting on a header off a corner, but the Spartans cleared the ball off the goal line. Later on, Harneet Dadrao had a free kick from just outside the box, from the left, but her shot went just over the bar.

“A really hard battle,” Spartans head coach Graham Roxburgh summarized. “I thought UFV’s aggressiveness set the tone early, and it took us a few minutes to collect ourselves. We were disappointed by the early goal (against), because we didn’t start as well as we could corporately. Our work rate was good today, but their aggressiveness made it tough for us to play in spaces. But as the game kind of got stretched, we started passing the ball more, and I thought Seina’s goal to win it was fantastic.”

The Cascades are back in action next weekend at home, hosting the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday and the Alberta Pandas on Saturday.

– with files from Scott Stewart, TWU Athletics

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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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