Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – A dramatic injury-time goal from Darash Sandhu lifted the University of the Fraser Valley men's soccer team to a 2-1 win over the Trinity Western Spartans on Sunday afternoon at MRC Sports Complex.
Sandhu, a rookie forward from Surrey, B.C., picked an opportune moment to cash in his first career Canada West goal. With the score knotted 1-1 beyond the 90th minute, Cascades captain Tammer Byrne sent a long ball ahead and Sandhu and Spartans keeper Sebastian Colyn both raced to meet it. They arrived at virtually the same time, but the ball squirted past Colyn, and Sandhu's forward momentum gave him a clean look at the vacated net. All that was left to do was slot it home and peel back towards the bench to celebrate with his teammates.
The victory represented a significant bounce-back effort from the Cascades, who had suffered a 4-0 loss to the Spartans at TWU's Langley campus on Friday evening. It also kept UFV's playoff hopes alive, boosting their record to 4-6-2 with four regular-season games remaining. The Spartans fell to 6-4-4.
"It's massive," Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said afterward. "Based off how Friday went and how poor I thought we were, fantastic response. I thought first half was probably the best half we've put together all year. We were strong in the tackle, defensively our shape was good, we caused problems going forward, and we looked really, really good.
"We came out a little bit flat second half and had to weather the storm, and they did end up getting one. But full credit to the boys for fighting and believing right to the very end."
The Cascades started much more brightly than they had in Friday's loss to the Spartans, and their effort yielded a goal in the 12th minute. Gurmaan Jhaj's initial shot was stopped by Colyn, but the rebound went directly to Brady Weir who tapped it in for his team-best third goal of the season.
TWU started having more success going forward in the minutes leading up to halftime, and they continued that momentum after the break. In the 58th minute, Joel Waterman hammered a shot off the goalpost, and 10 minutes later, Elie Gindo's header bounced off the crossbar before being cleared out of harm's way by UFV defender John Kasper.
In the 73rd, the Spartans broke through. Cody Fransen got his head on Leighton Johnson's corner kick and nodded it home from close range to knot the score.
That set the stage for Sandhu.
"Before the game, I told everyone I was going to get a goal today," he recounted with a smile afterward. "And I ended up doing it.
"I didn't even think I'd get to the ball at first, but I just kept running and stuck my leg out, and it hit me and went past him (Colyn). I just shot it right away – maybe everyone thought it was going to go wide or hit the post, but I saw it go in. So I turned around and started celebrating early."
"I'm happy for Darash," Lowndes said. "He's worked hard and had to bide his time for his chance (to play), and obviously taken it. I thought one through 18, it was a full team effort. To see that from everybody just goes to show the type of atmosphere and environment we have and how positive it can be."
Next weekend, the Cascades visit Prince George, B.C. to face the UNBC Timberwolves. The Spartans are on a bye week before wrapping up the regular season with home games vs. UBC and UVic the following weekend.