ABBOTSFORD- Mackenzie Cole The goal was the difference as the UBC Thunderbirds beat the UFV Cascades 1-0 in Canada West men’s soccer action Friday night at Rotary Stadium.
In a relentless physical contest that featured 10 combined yellow cards between the two teams – but all to different individuals, and therefore no ejections – a brilliant pass from UBC Nick Fussell gushed Cole for the match winner in the 54th minute.
The Cascades (0-3-2), despite their best efforts, couldn’t score the tie and will seek a measure of revenge on Sunday when they face the No. 9-ranked U SPORTS T-Birds (2-0 – 3) once again (3 p.m., Rotary Stadium).
“A lack of concentration for 30 seconds, a ball in the side – we made a mistake, and they punished us for it,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes noted afterwards. “That’s what good teams do.”
“They were clinical with that chance, and they had another chance at the end, but I think we defended very, very well for massive parts of the game. I thought we were solid, compact, organized, tough to break down, and had a great hunger and a great desire. Just that one opportunity where they scored, and we didn’t take ours.
The Cascades had the best chance in the first half — Mikael Mainella looked good early on a dangerous foray, but his shot was blocked by two UBC defenders. Later, in the 39th minute, Manpal Brar took a crack well outside the box and beat the T-Birds keeper. Bennett McKaybut his shot hit the post-crossbar junction and went outside.
On the other end, UBC generated a handful of promising crossovers, but UFV goaltender Jackson Cowx handled them with ease.
In the 54th, an exceptional pass from Fussell, deep in midfield, threaded the needle through several layers of the UFV defense and found Cole in stride. He chipped the ball past a rushing Cowx.
Jun Won Choi, back in the Cascades roster for the first time since 2018, and David Parfett gave the Cascades great energy as they pushed for the equalizer down the stretch, but despite the pressure on the visitors, they could not connect.
“Obviously they (UBC) are one of the best programs in Canada West and nationally,” Lowndes noted. “But the boys have stepped up, and we’re still competing, still giving them a battle.
“I love this team. I can’t say enough about this team, and I can’t say how lucky I am to be able to coach them and be involved, to see the boys working every days. For the work they put in, they don’t get rewarded. It’s hard work when you think you deserve more, and I know we deserve more. But just a fantastic group to work with, and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort tonight and I couldn’t be more proud to coach them.”