Sept 6,2014(ISN) – LANGLEY, British Columbia – First-year Trinity Western striker Vito Poletto (Calgary) scored just 19 minutes into his first ever Canada West contest and that turned out to be all the Spartans needed as they held on for a 1-0 win over Fraser Valley Friday at Rogers Field.
Poletto took a pass from Cam Parkes (North Delta, B.C.) at the top of the Cascades box, turned, beat his defender and then ripped a shot top corner past UFV keeper Alex Skrzeta.
“It’s amazing and a perfect way to start the season,” Poletto said. “I can’t really even explain it. It happened too fast. I just hit it top corner.”
Despite the Cascades (0-1) outshooting TWU 10-5 and having a 4-2 edge in shots on target, the Spartans (1-0) maintained the clean sheet and nabbed a win in their home-opener in front of 860 fans.
Spartans fourth-year goalie Evan Lowther (Surrey, B.C.) made four saves to preserve the shutout and earn the victory. Skrzeta countered with one save on the two TWU shots he faced.
Thanks to 25 TWU fouls, compared to 15 for the Cascades, the visitors had plenty of opportunities to build from restarts, but ultimately were unable to take advantage.
The closest UFV came to an equaliser was in the first half when a Ravi Singh header, which came off one of the Cascades many set pieces, hit the crossbar in the 30th minute.
The Spartans will now head to Victoria to take on the No. 9 Vikes Saturday at 7 p.m. while UFV will host UBC Sunday.
“I think we gave away too many restarts throughout the match, but having said that, I think in the second half we were a little better in that regard,” said Spartans coach Pat Rohla. “Overall, there is lots for improvement, but I’m ecstatic with a win at home on our first night with a brand new group of guys. There’s a lot of room for growth, but I’m proud of the boys.
“I think Mitchell Rohla (Langley) did a great job defensively for us tonight and I think (Brayden) Gant (Maple Ridge, B.C.) is back to form.”
Spartans goalie Lowther had to be sharp early on as the Cascades came out with plenty of pressure and forced the TWU keeper into a couple of key saves inside the first 20 minutes.
However, while UFV earned six corner kicks before the game was 30 minutes old, it was Poletto opening the scoring in the 19th minute.
From 15 yards out and from the middle of the box, the highly-touted rookie made good on his attempt, cracking a no doubter beyond the hands of Skrzeta.
Singh’s header off the crossbar in the 30th minute nearly tied the game and then a Ryan Liddiard header from in tight in the 44th minute sailed just over the bar, but it wasn’t meant to be for UFV on this night.
By halftime, UFV had an 8-1 edge in corners and was whistled for only five fouls to the Spartans 15, but the home side managed to hold the Cascades offence at bay.
In the second half, the Spartans limited their fouls – both sides had 10 each over the final 45 minutes – and also did well to keep UFV away from Lowther.
After the 57th minute, the Cascades didn’t get another shot.
The Spartans have now earned wins in three straight season-opening games. The last time TWU lost in a season-opener was in 2011 when they fell 1-0 against UFV.
GAME NOTES: TWU’s Kalem Scott (Comox, B.C.), Elijah Adekugbe (Calgary) and Poletto were all shown yellow cards…TWU played UFV twice on the road last year, winning 2-1 in the season-opener before losing 4-2 in a mid-season contest.