By Dan Kinvig. Gurneet Dhaliwal, Harman Billen and Jasmine Mangat have played soccer together for so long, they’re practically family at this point.
So it only made sense that they’d spend their post-secondary soccer careers together, too.
The talented trio, who spent the better part of a decade playing together on Surrey United youth teams, have signed with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer program and will join the Cascades in the fall of 2015.
“We’re excited to be adding three outstanding players,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “All three have had successful club careers with Surrey United and all three have done very well with the BC Soccer provincial program.
“UFV Women’s Soccer is ascending to be one of the elite programs in Canada West and adding in talented student-athletes like Gurneet, Harman and Jasmine will make our program deeper and more competitive for years to come.”
The impending arrival of Dhaliwal, Billen and Mangat bolsters a talented Cascades side which won the Canada West silver medal and finished fourth at CIS nationals in 2014.
The Surrey trio, who played this past season on Surrey United’s under-18 team in the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League, followed UFV’s thrilling playoff run with great interest.
“It’s really motivating for us, because we want to come in and push this team even further than what they did this year,” Mangat said. “We want to be the extra push for them to win gold at nationals.”
All three cited UFV’s excellent reputation on the pitch and in the classroom as factors in their decision to sign with the Cascades.
“I chose UFV on the basis of its excellent accomplishments with the women’s soccer program and the academic reputation which can lead me towards the right paths in my future,” Billen said.
Beyond that, the opportunity to continue to play together was enticing.
“We have a chemistry with one another, and I think it’s a good benefit for us coming into UFV,” Mangat said.
“Sometimes we get sick of each other,” Dhaliwal added with a chuckle. “But we enjoy it. We’re like sisters. Of course you get annoyed at your siblings here and there, but at the end of the day, we love each other.”
Surrey United technical director Jeff Clarke said the Cascades have a lot to look forward to with the additions of Dhaliwal, Billen and Mangat.
“These three girls have been major contributors to the great success of our 1997 girls team over the years,” he said. “Their leadership, dedication and commitment to their team has been exemplary and we believe they will have very productive university careers.”
Gurneet Dhaliwal, 5’6” forward, Tamanawis Secondary
“Gurneet is a very good left-footed attacker, she scores goals and has a great attitude.” – Markus Reinkens, former BC Soccer staff coach and manager of player development
“Gurneet is an attacking player who can play in a numbers of positions – she has the potential to be an effective wide player, but also has the ability to play centrally as a striker or in behind a striker.” – Rob Giesbrecht, UFV women’s soccer head coach
Harman Billen, 5’6” midfielder, Fleetwood Park Secondary
“I think Harman may be the most underrated player in the age group. She was a starter for us and was one of our most consistent performers.” – Reinkens
“Harman is a well-balanced central midfielder. She is smooth on the ball and can keep her team in possession, she reads the play very well and can stop an opponent’s attack and transition our team into attack seamlessly.” – Giesbrecht
Jasmine Mangat, 5’8” defender, L.A. Matheson Secondary
“Jasmine is a good defender, reads the game well and gets herself in the right position at the right time. Strong in the air and on 1v1 defending.” – Reinkens
“Jasmine is a solid defender, she is good in the air, tough to beat 1v1 and strong in her tackles. She is tactically intelligent and can distribute the ball well out of the back.” – Giesbrecht