The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team continued its preseason preparations with a 2-1 homefield victory over the Northwest University Eagles on Sunday evening in Abbotsford.
A strong start powered the Cascades, as Simi Lehal (Surrey) and Sarah Parker (Surrey) found the net within the first 17 minutes of play. Rylee Rassier, in the 47th minute, responded for the visitors from Kirkland, Wash.
“They’re a good NAIA program – an athletic team that always gives us a good game,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht said of the Eagles, ranked No. 20 in the NAIA national preseason poll. “I’m happy we could get everyone into the game today and give people a lot of minutes.
“As we move through the preseason, we’re trying to learn about our team and who fits well where, and striving towards getting match-fit and making sure we’re ready for our Canada West opener against UVic.”
Third-year forward Parker, working her way back after an injury absence, was instrumental on the opening goal, doing some great work along the end line to earn a corner for the Cascades. Tavia Jasper (Langley) sent the ball in and found Lehal at the far post for the finish.
Shortly thereafter, Jashan Sandhar (North Delta) fed the ball to Bryana Buttar (Abbotsford), and she played a penetrating pass to Parker who sent a shot from the edge of the box inside the far post. Andrea Perkovic (Calgary) sparkled in goal over the first 45 minutes as the Cascades took a 2-0 lead into the half.
Rassier got the Eagles back into the game with a great individual effort. She worked her way through the UFV defence and broke in alone on Joven Sandhu (Surrey), who had come on at halftime in relief of Perkovic. Rassier’s rising shot found the net just beyond the fingertips of a diving Sandhu.
Afterward, Giesbrecht had plaudits for two UFV duos – rookie midfielders Buttar and Halle McCambley (Maple Ridge), and centre backs Jasper and Taylor Nekic (Surrey).
“I thought we started really well, and Bryana and Halle controlled the midfield quite well in the first part of the game – it’s exciting to have two first-year players who play together that well,” he said. “The centre-back pairing of Tavia and Taylor looked solid and that’s something we’re really pleased about.”
The UFV roster includes Chilliwack products Yasmina Enneddam, Mackenzie Silbernagel and Katie Lampen.
The Cascades have four more preseason games remaining, all against NCAA Div. II opponents. They face the Western Washington Vikings (Aug. 23), Simon Fraser Clan (Aug. 26) and Seattle Pacific Falcons (Aug. 31) on the road, with a home date vs. the Concordia Cavaliers (Aug. 29).
The Canada West conference season is fast approaching – UFV opens with road games at the UVic Vikes (Sept. 6) and the UBC Thunderbirds (Sept. 7), and host their home openers the following weekend vs. the Manitoba Bisons (Sept. 13) and Winnipeg Wesmen (Sept. 14).