Days of Thunder opens with Vikes hosting No. 1 T-Birds

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Sept 3,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – Three seasons have passed since the University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team last hoisted the Sam Davidson Memorial trophy as the top team in the CIS. In 2011, then rookies Cam Hundal and Craig Gorman stole the show to help the Vikes capture their fifth national title. With the Hundal-Gorman duo now entering their fourth season, head coach Bruce Wilson has a solid, talented core to lead his team in their 2014 CIS campaign.

This weekend the CIS No. 9-ranked Vikes squad will take on the No. 1 UBC Thunderbirds, who are also the two-time defending national champions, on Sept. 5, as well as the unranked Trinity Western Spartans on Sept. 6.

Last season the Vikes posted an impressive regular season record of 10-3-1 to finish second, only behind UBC, in the Pacific Division. Despite qualifying for the post-season, the Vikes struggled in the Canada West Final Six. An over-time win over Calgary put them through to the medal rounds but losses to Saskatchewan and Fraser Valley left them out of CIS contention and fourth in the conference.

This fall Wilson enters his 27th season leading the Vikes and will be joined alongside former Canadian national teammate and now assistant coach Ian Bridge. In addition to Hundal and Gorman, the Vikes retain the talents of striker Cameron Stokes as well as co-captains Craig Taylor and Alex Redpath. Stokes and Hundal led the Canada West in 2013 as the league’s top scorers, each with 11 goals in 14 games. And were both named conference all-stars.

“We will be relying heavily on our offensive attack this year,” said Wilson, a nine-time Canada West Coach of the Year. “We have a fairly old team returning and some really good young ones coming on board. We expect to make playoffs this year and we know the league is going to be tough.”

A large 2014 graduation class included the solid goalkeeping of CIS First Team All-Canadian Elliot Mitrou. Filling his role will be third-year transfer Noah Pawlowski, a local Claremont graduate who sat out last season after transferring from Langara College. The six-foot-three netminder has helped the Vikes go undefeated in pre-season, allowing only three goals.

The Vikes also graduated defenders CIS All-Canadian Andrew Ravenhill, Bobby Eng and Toshi Hayashi, but add midfielder Tarnvir Bhandal, forward Michael Baart and Justin Donaldson to the mix.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to make it to the CIS national championship because of the number of teams in the Canada West,” adds Wilson.

The Vikes open their season hosting a series with the two-time defending national champions, UBC, as well as Trinity Western, Sept. 5-6 at Centennial Stadium. Games are at 7:15 p.m. at Centennial Stadium. All games will have live web video and stats at uvic.canadawest.tv.

The Sept. 5 match up will also be an extension of the Vikes’ 5th Annual ThunderFest activities known as Days of Thunder. Prizes will be available at half time and more information can be found at govikesgo.com/ThunderFest

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