SFU men’s soccer kicked off their pre-season preparations with a confidence-building victory over a dogged University of the Fraser Valley outfit at Terry Fox Field on Friday night. Goals from Adam Jones and Dzenan Bezdrob were enough to secure a 2–1 victory for the home side, which looked comfortable in possession throughout.
Right from the start, the Clan seemed at ease with the ball at their feet, moving play around the park with patience and waiting for opportunities to arise.
With the visitors also looking to play an expansive style, it was perhaps surprising that it took until the 10th minute for the first real chance of the night. SFU forward Riley Pang took advantage of a defensive error from Fraser Valley, only to see his shot clip the outside of the post on its way wide.
The home side was beginning to control the game, with their possession-based style affording them time on the ball. An eye-catching turn from Mamadi Camara led to a corner for the Clan, from which Pang headed the ball over the crossbar, despite being unmarked in the penalty area.
The chances kept coming for SFU, with Kyle Jones flashing a free kick just wide from 25 yards after as many minutes.
Eventually, the first goal of the game arrived. With five minutes to go until halftime, Erik Morden’s cross was met with a delightful diving header from Adam Jones. His effort beat the Fraser Valley goalkeeper to give SFU a 1–0 lead going into the break.
Almost directly from the restart, the Clan had a great chance to register their second. Camara was found by a sublime diagonal pass from centre-back Magnus Kristensen, but the SFU winger was unable to properly connect with his shot.
Kristensen showed his defensive prowess minutes later, as the Norwegian leapt high to clear away a dangerous corner from the lively Brady Weir.
Momentum was with the home side, though, and only a brilliant save from Fraser Valley replacement goalkeeper Jesse March prevented SFU doubling their lead on 65 minutes. Lucas McIlveen rose high to connect with an in-swinging free kick, and his header would have ended up in the back of the net was it not for March’s save.
There wasn’t long to wait for SFU’s second goal, though. Dzenan Bezdrob latched onto a through-ball on 68 minutes, and his shot was too powerful for March in the Fraser Valley goal. The Clan doubled their advantage.
Fraser Valley, however, showed their resilience, creating a few late chances of their own. With a minute remaining, they were rewarded with a goal. A free kick from out wide evaded everyone in the SFU penalty area, and when the ball came back off the post it was the visitors who reacted the quickest, turning the ball past SFU goalkeeper Victor Gouchee to halve the deficit.
It came too late to make a difference, though, with the final whistle blowing shortly afterward to confirm the victory for the Clan.
SFU head coach Clint Schneider was pleased with his side’s performance, highlighting the contribution of his less experienced players after the match.
“Results are great at this point, but it’s great for our guys to get minutes. The weather hasn’t really cooperated with us this spring, and we haven’t been outside a lot. I was pleased — overall, it was good.
“The younger guys who didn’t play so much in the fall I thought did really well — Dzenan [Bezdrob] got a goal, Erik [Morden] got an assist, — two guys that haven’t had a lot of minutes.”
Next Game: The Clan continue their pre-season preparations next Friday, as they take on the Fraser Valley All-Stars on Terry Fox Field. Giving his thoughts on his team’s next match, Schneider said, “The plan is to play a lot of our young guys, get them the majority of the minutes. It’s another exercise for us before we move on into spring.”