By Ali Lee, with files from U of Alberta
November 2, 2012, VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team has dropped out of the running to defend their CIS national title from last season, as they were downed 2-0 by the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarter-finals on Friday at Foote Field in Edmonton.
With the loss, the Vikes’ season comes to a close after a 6-6-2 regular season record.
With the win, the Saskatchewan Huskies advance to the conference semifinals, where they will face the UBC Thunderbirds, on Nov. 3 at 9:00 a.m. PST. The top-two finishers in the Canada West championship will advance to the CIS national championship hosted at Laval University, Nov. 8-10.
The Huskies got on the board in the 43rd minute of play from Bobby Nicholat and notched the insurance marker in the 90th minute from Brett Levis.
“It was very icy conditions out there today – difficult for both teams to play on,” said Vikes men’s’ soccer head coach Bruce Wilson. “Credit to our team today though, we kept on battling. We out-shot them. We out-cornered them. We just didn’t score.”
The Vikes-Huskies match up was originally scheduled for yesterday, Nov. 1, but freezing and snowy conditions forced the host venue to post pone the game until the field was deemed safe. Despite the delay, field and weather conditions still played a huge factor for both squads.
The Vikes recorded 13 shots in the game, forcing Huskies keeper Mark Diakiw to tally five saves. The UVic side held the territorial advantage for the majority of the opening half with some dangerous runs sparked by fifth-year Wesley Barrett (Richmond, B.C.) and second-year Canada West All-Star Cam Hundal (Terrace, B.C. ) The Vikes speed and quick counter-attack were threatening throughout the match but were not enough to get them on the board.
Midfielder Nicholat gave the Huskies the first-half lead when he collected a loose ball in the Victoria 18-yard box and pounded it off, and through a smattering of Vikes defenders in the 43rd minute for the lead, and ultimately the game winner.
Fourth-year Vikes goalie Elliot Mitrou (Victoria, B.C.) was kepy busy in his end, stopping seven shots in the game, including a beautiful diving stop on a low free-kick early in the second half.
The teams played neutral zone soccer through the remainder of the second, with the Huskies leaning towards a more defensive style to protect their lead.
After the 90 minute mark, in injury time, Saskatchewan successfully stopped a seemingly-threatening Vikes corner kick, and turned the ball up field on a 2-on-1 that was finished when Brandon Holmes crossed a well-paced ball into the box for Levis who headed it past Mitrou for the 2-0 final.
The loss ends the regular and post-season for the Vikes men, who will not be able to defend their national title crown from 2011. The Huskies will advance as one of the top-four Canada West teams and vy for one of the two national championship berths.
1 2 Final
UofS- 1 1 2
UofV- 0 0 0
Saskatchewan goals: Bobbi Nicholat (43rd min) and Brett Levis (90th min)