Vikes women draw home opener with Alberta Pandas

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications, Photos by Chad Hipolito (ISN)

VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s soccer team eased their nerves in the opening game of their Canada West season taking two points from the CIS No. 5 ranked Alberta Pandas. The Vikes gained a late goal from midfielder Mallory Hackett (Victoria, BC) and went on to earn a 1-1 tie with the Alberta Pandas at Centennial Stadium.

Third-year Pandas forward Kayla Michaels put the Pandas on the board first, after a miscommunication within the Vikes defense left her alone with UVic keeper Stephanie Parker (Chemainus, BC) inside the six-yard-box.

“I think we rebounded really well in the second half,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David, in her 11th season. “In the last 20 minutes of the game, we had good speed that created some great chances. I was really happy to see that and the composure from the team.”

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UVIC Vikes, Cassie Dennis, trips over Alberta Pandas Elise Emmott, during the Vikes home opener at Centennial Stadium in Victoria,BC Friday September 7, 2012 The game finished in a draw 1-1. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News

The Vikes opened up the scoring chances only two minutes into the game with fourth-year midfielder Lindsay Hoetzel (Victoria, BC) showing early strength down the right side. Hoetzel served an excellent ball in front of the six-yard-box for Hackett. Hackett made good connection on the touch towards goal but Alberta keeper and fifth year Kelti Biggs closed the space down to make the save in tight.

First-half play was kept mostly in the midfield with both teams leaning on veteran experience to distribute the ball. UVic’s Jacqueline Harrison (Whitehorse, YT) and Cassie Dennis (Calgary, AB) controlled the ball well through in the middle, continually looking to feed Emma Greig (Tofino, BC), Hackett and Hoetzel up front. Harrison and Dennis had to battle with Alberta fifth-year midfielders Carleigh Miller and Elise Emmott who were crucial in setting up the Pandas attack.

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UVIC Vikes Emma Greig, left, is taken down by Alberta Pandas Kelsey Mitchell during the Vikings home opener at Centennial Stadium in Victoria,BC Friday September 7, 2012. The game finished in a draw 1-1. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News

In the 27th minute, fifth-year forward Amanda Black, who led most of Alberta’s chaos up front, took a strike from well outside the 18-yard box that just floated past the left post.

Four minutes later, Hackett returned the opportunity beating the Alberta defense to a lofted ball in the box but her header went just over the bar.

The Pandas had the best scoring opportunity of the half in the 42nd minute when rookie Terri Kutryk got bend a solid shot that forced Parker to fully stretch to tip the ball out.

At the end of the half, the score remained 0-0 with neither team showing full dominance on the pitch. The Canada West No. 2 ranked Pandas forced UVic’s Parker to make four saves before the half, while Biggs put up three.

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UVIC Vikes Brigitte Greig heads the ball towards Alberta Pandas Amanda Black during the Vikes home opener at Centennial Stadium Friday September 7, 2012. The game finished in a draw 1-1. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News

After the break, UVic brought in rookie Sarah Douglas (London, ONT) up front who used her size and speed to make an immediate impact. Douglas served a great chance five minutes into the second period, which resulted in midfielder Jaclyn Sawicki (Coquitlam, BC) getting a good shot from outside the 18-yard box. Biggs was up to the challenge to keep the game scoreless.

In the 56th minute, the Vikes defense got caught on their heels, which led to Pandas forward Michaels being left alone in the box. Michaels buried the close-range shot to put the Pandas up on the board 1-0.

Rookie Douglas was the spark behind the Vikes as the UVic women pressed for an equalizer. Douglas’ big presence up front allowed her to serve multiple chances from both sides of the pitch but UVic forwards were unable to capitalize. Fourth-year Pandas defender Shalla Kadima was key in shutting down the UVic offense.

In the 77th minute, the Vikes would be rewarded as Scharf’s sheer speed down the right side forced a corner kick that she placed perfectly in the box for Hackett to tie the game 1-1.

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Alberta Pandas Nikki kicks the ball away from UVIC Vikes Nathalie Scharf during the Vikes home opener at Centennial Stadium in Victoria,BC Friday September 7, 2012. The game finished in a draw 1-1. Chad Hipolito/Island Sport News

“Alberta is a very good team that was at the national championship last year,” said David. ” This time last year they walked away from here with three points and this time we took two from them.”

Both the Pandas and Vikes women walk away with one point each and move on to a 0-0-1 record. The Vikes women will return to Centennial Stadium and host Canada West new additions, the Mount Royal Cougars, on Sept. 8 at 5:00 p.m. The game will be available live at http://uvic.canadawest.tv

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