Soccer playoff slider-UVic

The University of the Fraser Valley soccer teams are off to Victoria this weekend in pursuit of berths to the Canada West Final Four.

In conference quarter-final playoff action at the University of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium on Saturday, the Cascades women take on their Vikes counterparts at 5 p.m. followed by the men’s teams clashing at 7:15 p.m. The games can be viewed live online at

Both Victoria squads pose a stiff test – the men are No. 4 in the CIS national rankings, while the women are ranked No. 5. But the UFV sides go in confident they’re capable of earning the result they need in a must-win situation on the road.

The Cascades women (7-2-3) have performed well vs. UVic (8-1-3) this season, battling the Vikes to a pair of 1-1 draws – on Oct. 11 at home, and on Oct. 18 on the road. UFV led in both games, only to watch UVic rally to level the score.

The Cascades are led offensively by fourth-year forward Shelby Beck and rookie Monika Levarsky, who share team-high scoring honours with six goals apiece, good for sixth-most in Canada West.

UFV also boasts a solid back line and one of the top keepers in the conference in third-year Kayla Klim, who has posted a sterling .841 save percentage and five shutouts. Holding midfielder Kara Delwo’s energy and ball-winning skills will be key vs. UVic.

The Vikes counter with a potent offence led by fourth-year forward Emma Greig, who paces the team with seven goals and tops the conference with seven assists. Fifth-years Jaclyn Sawicki  and Carly Branion-Calles have scored four and three goals, respectively.

“They have a lot of talented attacking players,” Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “If we just sit back and defend, that plays to their strengths. We’ve got to play on our front foot and be assertive.”

The UFV men sustained a win and a loss vs. UVic this season, drawing 1-1 at home on Oct. 11 and falling 3-1 in their regular season finale on Oct. 18.

But head coach Alan Errington felt that even in the loss, his charges played well against the Vikes. And they’ve had playoff success against Victoria in the recent past, beating them 2-1 in the 2013 Canada West bronze medal game.

The Cascades are led by fourth-year right back Colton O’Neill, whose five goals (four from the penalty spot) and three assists are both team-high marks this season. He’s part of a backline that is arguably the strength of the team, and the defence has been further bolstered by the return of goalkeeper Mark Village. The 2012 Canada West second team all-star missed the first half of the season due to a concussion, but has notched two shutouts in his six appearances.

Kree Byrne, Ryan Liddiard and Justin Sekhon have notched two goals apiece this season for the Cascades, and third-year midfielder Byrne is particularly hot at the moment, having scored in each of the last two games.

Errington has also been heartened by the performance of his rookies of late, most notably centre back Tammer Byrne and midfielder Michael Mobilio.

The Vikes will lean on the likes of senior striker Cameron Stokes, who tied for second in the conference with eight goals; Dominic Colantonio, who scored four times this season; and midfielder Cam Hundal, a former CIS championship MVP and Canada West rookie of the year.

“We don’t fear anybody but ourselves, really,” Errington said. “We beat them last year for third place, and I think they boys are confident they can get a result.

“They’re very well-coached and they’re a good team, and we respect that. But we also think we’re a good team and we can play with the best.”

– with files from Vikes Communications