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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes showed why they were ranked as the country’s top pick entering into the 2012 men’s soccer season. The UVic side, with 13 returnees from the 2011 championship team, defeated Canada West newcomers, the UNBC Timberwolves 3-1 at Centennial Stadium on Sept. 7 in front of over 2,300 fans.

The Vikes went up 2-0 in the opening ten minutes of the game thanks to quick pressure and good touches by Craig Taylor (Victoria, B.C.) and Craig Gorman (Victoria, B.C.). Both Craig’s pocketed a goal each early in the game but the Vikes went 81 minutes before scoring again. Taylor tipped in a Wesley Barrett (Richmond, B.C.) shot in expired time to secure the Vikes’ win by two.

UNBC top-scorer Daniel Dell notched the lone goal for the Timberwolves against the flow of play in the 42nd minute. Rookie goalkeeper Mitch McFarlane was relied upon heavily for 90 minutes as the Vikes out-chanced the Timberwolves 38-4.

“I thought we played very well today, except for all the goals we didn’t score,” said head coach Bruce Wilson, who enters his 25th season. “I don’t think we have ever played a better game. We totally dominated from the opening whistle. The only thing missing is putting the ball in the net.”

Taylor opened the scoring less than two minutes in to the game after he capitalized on a Wesley Barrett cross. The Vikes continued to pour on the offensive pressure keeping McFarlane very busy inside his six-yard-box.

Gorman’s signature left foot added a second for the Vikes after he received a ball from defender Bobby Eng (Richmond, B.C.). Gorman battled off a UNBC defender as he cut to the middle of the park and solidified the 2-0 lead after burying a ball from almost 20 yards out.

The Vikes controlled the majority of the opening half in the UNBC end with nine of the 11 UVic starters having played in the 2011 CIS national championship tournament last November. Second-years Cam Hundal (Terrace, B.C. ) and Gorman continued to deliver several dangerous balls towards goal from the left and right, respectively. Fourth-year transfer Nicholas Mavrikos (Victoria, B.C.) added to the offensive pressure as his fancy footwork gave the Timerwolves defence fits.

UNBC fourth-year midfielder Sourosh Amani was forced to retreat several times to help back on defense leaving the Timberwolves’ key striker Dell alone on several occasions up front. The Timberwolves sent only two shots on goal in the first half, one of which Dell was able to capitalize on. Vikes keeper Elliot Mitrou (Victoria, B.C.) was caught high off his line as Dell rolled a long ball just past the outstretched right side of Mitrou to bring the game within one.

The Vikes gained several more opportunities from Hundal, Andrew Ravenhill (Victoria, B.C.) and Taylor, tallying 22 shots. Despite out-shooting the Timberwolves 22-4, the Vikes entered the half up 2-1.

Following the break, Vikes head coach Wilson rolled in rookie forward Sam Prette (Victoria, BC), whose impact was almost as immediate as his entry on to the pitch. In the opening minute of the second half, Prette showed his footwork skills down the right side sending a low cross that was just missed by Taylor in front of the box.

Only one minute later, Wesley Barrett raced to keep a ball in off the end line on the right hand side, getting off a low hard ball across the face of the goal for Gorman who beamed the ball just over the cross bar from close range.

The Timberwolves stepped up their defensive game in the second half relying on midfielder Andrew Seabrook and defender Desmond Udeh to make several step ups at the top of the 18 to keep the scoreline tight.

“UNBC’s goalkeeper played exceptionally well tonight,” said Wilson. “I give them credit. They are a brand new team and it’s going to take them a while but it was 2-1 for 75 minutes and fairly tight.”

McFarlane was solid in goal for the Timberwolves but had some help off the line from his cross bar as Cameron Stokes (Richmond, B.C.) connected well on an Alex Redpath(Terrace, B.C.) cross in the 83rd minute. Stokes headed the ball from close range for what the Vikes thought would be their third goal but the ball ricocheted under the cross bar and stayed out.

The Vikes tallied a third goal in added time as Hundal delivered a ball to Wesley Barrett. Barrett took a good strike toward goal but Taylor got a deflection on it to put the Vikes up 3-1 just before the final whistle.

The Vikes earned their first three points of the 2012 season and will host the Timberwolves again tomorrow, Sept. 8, at 7:15 p.m. at Centennial Stadium. The game will be streamed live at http://uvic.canadawest.tv