Spartans pull away in second half, top Cascades 3-1

Brittney Zacharuk scored from the penalty spot in the 39th minute.

The Trinity Western Spartans struck twice after halftime to pull away for a 3-1 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team on Friday evening in Langley.

The Cascades were level with the U SPORTS No. 3-ranked Spartans at the break – the hosts having opened the scoring in the 13th minute via Jenaya Robertson, and UFV answering in the 39th on a Brittney Zacharuk penalty kick.

TWU took over when play resumed, though, as goals from Kathryn Harvey and Seina Kashima provided the final margin.

The Cascades (3-4-2) and Spartans (8-1-0) wrap up the home-and-home set in Abbotsford on Sunday (2 p.m., MRC Sports Complex).

“We started on our back foot – gave up some chances and looked nervous,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said afterward. “We were quite fortunate to be down just one early. Around 15 minutes in, I thought we flipped a switch and started being physical. That part of the game, I thought we were good – we had a lot of corners, and hit the bar on one of them. Then Gurns (Gurneet Dhaliwal) gets hauled down for a penalty and Brit finishes. A lot of positive things happened in the middle and end of the first half.

Gurneet Dhaliwal controls a throw-in in front of a Spartans defender.

“Second half, we just told our players to tweak a few things, but their mentality was nowhere near what it needs to be. You can’t do that against a team like this. We were losing first and second balls, and making life easy for our opponents. It’s a tough lesson to learn for our young team, but we need to learn it quickly and get ready for Sunday.”

The Spartans opened the scoring after Gabi Short beat UFV keeper Joven Sandhu to a ball outside the box, and slipped a pass to Robertson for a wide-open finish.

The Cascades found some traction after that – Zacharauk curled a corner kick that went off the crossbar, and later on, Taylor Nekic’s header off another UFV corner grazed the top of the bar.

The visitors drew even after Dhaliwal made a quick turn off a throw-in and was hauled down in the box. Zacharuk stepped to the penalty spot and made no mistake for her sixth of the year, extending her goal streak to three games.

Kashima helped the Spartans get off to a great start early in the second half, slipping a through ball onto the foot of Harvey who knocked it past Sandhu into the low right corner.

Kashima scored a goal of her own in the 59th off a Robertson assist, putting the Spartans in control.

Dhaliwal and Kashima were named their teams’ respective players of the game, and Sandhu finished with eight saves for the Cascades.

–  with files from Jack Nadelhoffer, TWU Athletics

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