Given the degree of difficulty that their regular-season schedule presents, it only makes sense that the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team loads up its preseason slate with heavyweight opponents.
That’s exactly what head coach Rob Giesbrecht has done – his squad’s seven-game exhibition schedule features a pair of NCAA Division I foes (Eastern Washington and Idaho), a standout NAIA program (Northwest University), and a quartet of strong NCAA Div. II squads (Western Washington, Simon Fraser, Concordia (Ore.) and Seattle Pacific).
The Cascades launch their preseason this week with a two-game road swing to take on the Eastern Washington Eagles in Cheney, Wash. on Friday, and the Idaho Vandals in Moscow, Idaho on Sunday.
Their exhibition schedule features a pair of home games at MRC Sports Complex: Aug. 18 vs. the Northwest Eagles, and Aug. 29 vs. the Concordia Cavaliers. The balance of the games are on the road.
The goal is to have the Cascades ready to hit the ground running at the start of the Canada West regular season. UFV opens on the road, taking on 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).
Giesbrecht noted that this year marks the first time in program history that the Cascades will play two NCAA Div. I sides in the preseason.
“We felt it was important to test ourselves against top competition, and we’re looking forward to that,” he said. “We’re a young team, still building, and we need growth opportunities. You get that from playing quality opposition. I look forward to seeing how my young players do against the pace and physicality these teams present, and I feel it will be great preparation for our grueling Canada West schedule.”
Team captain Brittney Zacharuk – the lone fifth-year senior on the roster – leads a squad which features 15 returnees and nine true freshmen.
Chilliwackians on the squad include Mackenzie Silbernagel, Katie Lampen, Yasmina Enneddam and Calista Ballentine.