VANCOUVER – The Fraser Valley Cascades outlasted the Trinity Western Spartans in the Canada West bronze medal match on Saturday evening, claiming a 2-1 win thanks in large part to the performance of midfielder Connor MacMillan, who finished the game with a goal and an assist.
The Cascades MacMillan and Michael Mobilio each scored second half goals, before the Spartans Aidan Moore (Langley, B.C.) tallied late to make for a wild finish. Despite a strong TWU push in the waning moments, the Spartans came up empty.
After finishing the regular season with a 5-5-2 record, the Spartans earned a 1-0 upset win over Prairie Division-winning Calgary in the Canada West Quarter-Finals before dropping back-to-back 2-1 decisions at the Final Four. The Spartans lost to Victoria in Friday’s semifinal.
The first half was a defensive struggle, as neither team could really break into the final third to create quality scoring chances.
In a foul-filled affair – Fraser Valley racked up 19, while TWU was close behind with 16 – it seemed appropriate that two of the best scoring chances from a goalless first half came off of set pieces.
In the 28th minute, the Spartans got one of their first good shots on target, as midfielder Elijah Adekugbe (Calgary) sent a terrific free kick at Fraser Valley goalkeeper Alex Skretza from 25 yards out. However, Skretza, who made two saves to pick up the win, was up to the challenge, as he made a great stop moving to his left.
Fraser Valley got a nice opportunity to create some havoc with a set-piece of its own in the 43rd minute, when a long-range kick found its way into a crowded TWU 18-yard box. Amidst the heavy traffic, Spartans goalkeeper Andrew Hicks (Surrey, B.C.), who was only forced to make one save all night, did well to track the ball in the air and managed to punch it away from danger before the Cascades could pounce.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Cascades wasted no time breaking the scoreless deadlock. MacMillan took the ball deep in TWU territory and weaved his way into the Spartans 18-yard box, only to be hauled down for a penalty kick. MacMillan himself stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, beating Hicks.
Looking to battle back, the Spartans efforts were hampered in the 65th minute when they were reduced 10 men after Leighton Johnson (Calgary) was assessed a red card.
In the 72nd minute UFV got what would prove to be an all-important second goal. On a throw-in from the right sideline, MacMillan received the ball, turned and delivered a quick chip into the path of midfielder Michael Mobilio, who finished with authority from in close.
In the 83rd minute, TWU finally got on the board, when forward Cody Fransen (Lynden, Wash.) lobbed it up to Moore. The midfielder did well to race onto the ball in space down the right flank, and wire a shot past Skretza to bring the Spartans within one.
However, despite immense pressure from the Spartans in the closing minutes, they couldn’t find the equalizer, and the Cascades walked away with the win, and the Canada West bronze medal.
Game Notes: It was the second game in a row TWU was reduced to 10 men after the Spartans Kalem Scott also saw a red card in the semifinal…TWU finished the game with an 8-5 edge in shots…the Spartans were unable to beat UFV this year, going 0-2-1, including their two regular season meetings.