It was a medal-free journey to Calgary last weekend for the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades men’s soccer team.
The team qualified for the Canada West final four for the first time since 2018, but the club’s remarkable late-season turnaround hit a big bump against the Victoria Vikes on Saturday (Nov. 6).
Victoria capitalized on opportunities early and the Cascades hurt themselves by taking a number of card, eventually losing 5-0.
The Vikes scored two goals in the first 20 minutes, with Jose Sagaste scoring on a set piece in the ninth minute and Ian Whibley connecting on a header in the 19th.
Things completely fell apart about eight minutes later when UFV midfielder Jun Won Choi received a red card. It’s unclear what was done for him to earn it. Very shortly thereafter Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes got a yellow card. Then at the 35-minute mark Trey Ference put the Vikes up 3-0.
Victoria’s Isaac Koch put the Vikes up 4-0 at the 50th minute and Sergio Duran added a goal in the 73rd minute to make it a 5-0 final. Shortly after Koch’s goal an unidentified member of the Cascades sideline staff also received a yellow card after a supposed missed hand ball call.
We didn’t help ourselves, conceding a poor goal off a set piece, and then the red card’s completely changed the game,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. “It’s a mammoth if not impossible task playing a good team like Vic with 10 men for 65 minutes. I’m proud of my players – they stuck together, they didn’t quit, they didn’t throw the towel in. I’m proud of them for that.”
Looking forward to watching this LIVE. Thanks to @DanKinvig and @UFVCascades for making that possible. MSOC looking to advance to @CanadaWest final for the first time ever this morning in Calgary https://t.co/e0W4fjIFS7
— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) November 6, 2021
The loss meant that the best UFV could hope for would be bronze as they battled the host Mount Royal University Cougars on Sunday (Nov. 7), but ultimately fell short 2-0.
Mount Royal got a goal from conference player of the year Moe El Gandour in the 41st minute, and Miguel Da Rocha sealed the result with a goal in second-half injury time with the Cascades pressing forward looking for the equalizer.
“We left it all on the field,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. “I challenged them to get over the mental and emotional frustrations of yesterday, and I think they did a good job of that. We battled to the end, and Mount Royal is a good team. We’re depleted, exhausted, and I’m really proud of the effort.”
The game marked the conclusion of several Cascades’ university soccer careers. Donald and Nikhil Reddy have both finished their five years of eligibility, while David Parfett has completed his kinesiology degree and Jun Woo Choi is on track to graduate in the spring.
“They’re a great group,” Lowndes said. “They’ve all contributed in different ways to shape the program, drive us forward and help us get better very single year. I can’t say enough about those guys. I’m proud to have been involved in their careers, and I can’t wait to see where their lives go from here.
“People picked us to finish ninth (in the Canada West preseason coaches’ poll), and we proved people wrong and we’ll continue to prove people wrong. We finished ahead of some very good programs. For a school the size of UFV to finish fourth in Canada West, I think we’ve had a very good year.”