The University of Fraser Valley got a pair of timely goals from their all-star Gurmaan Jhaj, and it was enough to pull out a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves, Sunday, September 1st in Prince George, B.C.
After a 1-1 draw with the TWolves on Friday, the Cascades were clearly looking to press more early on than they had in game one. In a relatively quiet first half, it was Jhaj who put UFV on the board in the 24th minute. The ball eluded a TWolves defender, leaving the 13-goal man from 2018 in alone. He beat UNBC keeper Rob Goodey for his first of the season. It was the fourth time in four games the Timberwolves have surrendered the opening goal.
“We have a lot of quality players, and they are able to get the ball to me,” said Jhaj. “It is just a matter of time before I take advantage of them and put them in the back of the net.”
In the second half, UNBC picked up their pressure and started possessing the ball in the style preferred by their head coach Steve Simonson. Freshman Reid Adams was giving the Cascades backline fits with his speed, causing a number of corner kick opportunities. Cascades freshman keeper Ethan Duggan was again steady, but the Timberwolves drew blood in the 50th minute. Off a Jonah Smith corner, Michael Henman found the ball in the box and put one top-corner to knot the game. The goal was the second of the season for the Victoria native.
In minute 74, Jehmrode Kahlon was taken down in the box, on a play the UNBC side argued contacted the ball first. Jhaj stepped up to take the PK and narrowly beat Goodey, making it 2-1. The goal was the 19th of his CW career, moving him to within one of the Cascades’ career record held by Sasa Plavsic.
“We changed it up a little and changed our playing style,” said Jhaj. “Everyone was confident and we went back to playing our game. We weren’t trying to match them, we just focused on our style, so that helps.”
Five minutes later, a near-identical play occurred in the opposite end of the pitch, as UNBC’s Owen Stewart was upended in prime scoring location in the Cascade box. This time, no foul was called. The Timberwolves continued to pressure with opportunities from Kensho Ando and Jonah Smith, but to no avail.
“Some calls didn’t go our way, but they were a good team,” said Adams. “You have to keep your head up and play how you can. You have to do what you can on the day, and those calls are never going to happen 100 percent of the time.”
The TWolves were forced to play aggressively with their formation, and the Cascades capitalized in added time as Kahlon found sub Atle Koellmel who potted the first of his UFV career to seal things. Final shots were 9-6 in favour of the Timberwolves, and corner kicks were 7-2 for the Timberwolves.
“They pressed us, instead of sitting off like last game,” said Adams, postgame. “That obviously gave us a different look. It was just a different game all around.”
With the win, UFV improves to 1-2-1, while UNBC falls to 1-2-1. The match marked the 50th in the career of UNBC’s Jonah Smith.
“We have the attitude and drive to keep going forward,” said Adams postgame. “If we keep that up and clean up some of the details, we will be good this year.”