Cascades forward Taylor Richardson controls the ball during Canada West action on Sunday (Sept. 19). (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Cascades forward Taylor Richardson controls the ball during Canada West action on Sunday (Sept. 19). (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

UFV Cascades soccer teams held to zero offence on opening weekend

Women play to pair of scoreless draws, men post a draw and a loss to Victoria

A wet home opening weekend resulted in zero offence in a quartet of games for the UFV Cascades men’s and women’s soccer teams on Friday and Sunday.

The women played the Victoria Vikes to back-to-back scoreless draws and couldn’t convert despite having a number of close calls in Sunday’s game.

The Cascades did their best work in the second half on Sunday

Off Jenna Mele’s corner in the 76th minute, the ball was initially cleared but was coaxed back into the box for captain Brittany Costa, who spun and fired a low shot, but UVic keeper Kayley Lidstone made the save with her right foot. The rebound came to Mele, and her high-arcing volley was grabbed by Lidstone.

In the 85th, another UFV corner nearly made the difference in the game. Taylor Nekic got her head on the end of Avery Tulloch’s effort, and the ball went over Lidstone’s outstretched arms but banged off the crossbar.

Cascades keeper Andrea Perkovic posted three saves for the clean sheet.

“I think we should have won at least one of those, but we’ll take the clean sheets and the two points,” UFV captain Brittany Costa said afterward. “We’ll take our confidence from the no goals against.”

The men lost a heartbreaker on Friday, allowing a goal in the dying minutes of the game to lose 1-0 to Victoria.

Evan Libke of the Vikes connected in the 85th minute to earn Victoria the road win. He came forward for a Mark Kaiser corner kick and tracked down the ball on a scramble in the box, poking it home.

“I’m not too disappointed with the performance – I thought we did OK for Game 1,” UFV bench boss Tom Lowndes said. “We said at halftime, it was going to be one thing – one bit of magic, one mistake, one set piece, one chance is probably going to win the game. That’s how tight the league is this year, and unfortunately it’s gone the other way tonight.

“The first 20 minutes we weren’t great, but I thought we settled in and probably were the better team (from that point). We talked about nullifying their set pieces, specifically their corners, and for 85 minutes, we’ve done a fantastic job of that. It’s one set piece that we’ve kind of switched off on, and they’ve scored. That’s the reality, sometimes. That’s what gets you three points, or one point, or zero points. Tonight it was zero, when we probably deserved something from the game.”

Sunday was a better effort for the men, but they could not crack the Vikes goose egg and the game ended in a scoreless draw.

In the 59th minute, Manpal Brar had the best look at goal of the afternoon for either team. After a Cascades corner was cleared, Ryan Donald and Ajai Boparai combined to keep the pressure on and feed Anthony Vega, and he tight-roped along the end line before squaring the ball to Brar just outside the six-yard box, with Harjot Nijjar [Vikes goalie] out of the play. But his point-blank attempt glanced off the leg of teammate Sahib Sidhu and wide of the net.

Brar had another crack at goal later in the half, but his volley went just over the crossbar.

“It was a much better performance today in terms of what we did with the ball,” Lowndes stated. “We played a lot more, we got the ball down, our rotations were better, and we did a much better job keeping the ball – completely different from Friday night.

“I thought we definitely deserved something from the game Friday, and I thought we probably deserved more than a point today. But that’s the nature of the beast sometimes, and if we continue to play like that, we’ll win more games than we lose this year.”

The games were originally set to occur at the Cascades new home at Rotary Stadium, but the rain prevented that. Games were moved to the MRC Fields, which was UFV’s previous home for several years.

Up next for the Cascades are a pair of road games vs. local rival Trinity Western. Games are set for Friday (Sept. 24) and Saturday (Sept. 25).

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