In their final regular season home games of the year, the No. 8 University of Alberta Pandas soccer team will host two other U SPORTS Top 10 teams.
The Pandas, leaders of the Prairie division, will host the No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds, currently tied for second in the Pacific Division with the No.6 Victoria Vikes, the Thunderbirds coming to town Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. game time before the Vikes come by for 12:00 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will also be available live on Canada West TV.
With two weeks left to go in the regular season, all three teams come in to the weekend with identical 7-1-2 records and have already punched their individual tickets to the 2017 post-season.
Yet the top two seeds in each division get to host a home game during quarter-finals and Alberta will have extra motivation on top of that since the highest remaining seed in the Prairie Division hosts the Canada West Final Four.
Against Pacific Division opponents, the Pandas are 1-1 so far this season, incurring their only loss of the season when the MacEwan Griffins scored in injury time to claim a 1-0 decision before Alberta got back in the win column the following day with a 4-0 win over the UNBC Timberwolves.
Though fourth-year forward Sydney Daines leads the Pandas with five goals on the season, fellow fourth-year forward Karissa McNutt has scored five points in the last five games to tie Daines for the team lead in points with seven.
At the other end, fifth-year middle Jamie Pasemko leads a conference-best defence, allowing only four goals in 10 games while ranking second in shots on goal allowed (32).
That defence will be crucial against Canada West’s best offence, UBC scoring 28 goals so far this season with fifth-year forward Jasmin Dhanda leading all scorers with 12 goals and 17 points.
The Surrey, B.C. native has taken part in 61% of her team’s goals, but she’s not the only offensive weapon for the T-birds, forwards Aman Shergill, Margaret Hadley, and Danielle Steer all scoring at least three goals and six points.
The Victoria Vikes may only rank fifth in offence (18 goals) but they come in with an equitable defence, allowing only six goals compared to Alberta’s four and UBC’s five.
Tied for the lead in Canada West, third-year netminder Puck Louwes brings six clean sheets into this weekend, the Utrecht, Netherlands native having five straight as well as 594 scoreless minutes before Dhanda ended the streak last Friday in a 1-1 draw.
Stat of the Weekend:
UBC’s Jasmin Dhanda comes into the weekend only one point behind team and Canada West career leader, Janine Frazao. The multiple Canada West all-star, and former T-Bird amassed 51 goals and 63 points during her 2009-13 tenure.