Sofia Jones was the proverbial snake in the grass the Fraser Valley Cascades were trying to avoid on the soccer pitch Sunday at Masich Place Stadium.
The San Francisco speed demon outraced veteran Cascades defender Marianne Spring to catch up to a long rolling pass threaded upfield by her UNBC Timberwolves teammate Mara McCleary. Jones took the ball as Spring fell to the turf and avoided the charge from goalie Joven Sandhu, who came out to smother the ball, leaving Jones with a gaping net 15 yards away.
Jones’s second goal of the weekend, which came in the 84th minute, gave the T-wolves the tying goal they desperately needed and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. It was one of only three shots on goal all afternoon as they were outshot 8-3.
“Mara had been playing great balls all day but the defence was very good and credit to Fraser Valley, they got their head on almost every single one but one of them slipped by, it was an amazing ball,” said Jones. “We tried out best to pick up our energy because in the first half they came at us and kept on winning those balls. They created a lot of opportunities in front of the net.
“Obviously we wanted to come out and get the win but each point matters for sure. We’re trying to get to playoffs again this year (for the third-straight year) and hopefully challenging and making that next round again.”
The Cascades scored their goal 23 minutes in. Katie Lampen chipped the ball along the turf and it rolled through three T-wolves defenders before Brittney Zacharuk caught up to it about 10 yards shy of the goal line and she booted the ball into the right corner behind goalie Brooke Molby.
The gusty conditions made it difficult to predict where high balls were going to land but the Cascades had much better success tracking the loose leather and winning the battles in the air and used that advantage to keep the T-wolves confined in their own half of the field for long stretches.
Al Alderson, who coached the T-wolves men’s team for three seasons from 2012-14, returned to his old stomping grounds as the Cascades women’s team assistant to head coach Rob Giesbrecht. Alderson shared his team’s pain caused by Jones’s late equalizer.
“That’s a gut-wrenching one this time of the season,” he said. “You need three points whenever you can get them.
“I’m certainly proud of our girls today, we played hard, we created some really good chances and got a lot of corner kicks out of the deal. Unfortunately, one mistake throws a bit of it away. But as we go down the stretch here you want your girls to battle and go after it and be positive and assertive and we did that today.”
The game was delayed for several minutes near the end of the first half when UNBC defender Lydia Lavigne, a first-year defender from Vernon, collapsed on the turf near her team’s goalpost suffering from a seizure. She was taken off by stretcher and remained on the field behind the UNBC net well into the second half before she was carried off.
Fifth-year midfielder Julia Babicz also needed training staff attention just before the intermission to help her deal with a nagging ankle injury. Babicz, along with T-wolves defender Ashley Volk and midfielder Jenna Wild, played the last home game of their U Sports Canada West Conference careers on Sunday,
The T-wolves (3-3-4, fifth in Pacific Division) are two points ahead of the sixth-place Cascades (2-3-5). The top six teams in each division make the playoffs. The T-wolves have four games left in the season. They’ll be in Calgary next weekend for a two-game set against the Pacific-leading Dinos (8-0-2).