By: James Nielsen,
(ISN) – VICTORIA – A fast start was all the University of Victoria Vikes (8-1-2) women’s soccer team needed to sweep their season series with Canada West rival UBC Thunderbirds (5-4-2), posting a 3-1 victory, Oct. 17 at Centennial Stadium in their penultimate match of the regular season.
Before attending fans had the chance to sit down, the Vikes had jumped to a 2-0 lead, with Vikes Abigail Raymer and Sarah Douglas combining for two goals in the opening three minutes of play. Fifth-year midfielder Cassie Dennis finished off a penalty kick opportunity in the second half to round out scoring for the home side, while Meaghan Storie made several key saves to secure the Vikes eighth win of the season.
Thunderbird Jasmine Dhanda was the lone Thunderbird to score, pulling her squad within a goal after an early second-half tally before Dennis’ goal pulled the Vikes ahead by a pair for the second time in the night. Much like her counterpart Storie, Marlee Maracle was solid in net in the defeat.
Raymer’s early goal came by way of a perfectly-placed Jaclyn Sawicki cross from the corner that the third-year transfer then tapped in past UBC keeper Maracle. Douglas’ goal came just moments later, as she sent a blast from over 35 yards out that Marcle was unable to get enough of, as the ball went crossbar and in.
UBC countered as the game reached the 10-minute-mark of play, with striker Dhanda moving into that attacking third before sliding a low, rolling shot past the right post.
Dhanda continued to be the most threatening player on the pitch for the visitors, jumping on an opportunity on 29 minutes to the left of Storie that was once again just off-target. Although UBC held a slight edge in possession, they struggled to generate opportunities in the attacking zone, registering four shots total in the first half.
Vikes leading scorer Emma Greig looked dangerous for the Vikes on two quality first half chances that included feeding Douglas inside the attacking zone that Maracle challenged well, eliminating a potential brace for the third-year forward. Douglas continued to press inside the 18-yard-box on the ensuing play, but another heavy strike was high over the crossbar.
A late push by the visitors into Victoria’s defensive zone saw the home side doing well to come back and support the back line, nullifying what could have been a large opportunity for the Thunderbirds before the final half came to a close with the VIkes holding a 2-0 edge.
Taking a page out of the Vikes playbook to begin the second half, the T-Birds struck in the opening minute, with Dhanda breaking through on the scoreboard after sending a hard low strike across the net and past Storie to cut the lead in half.
In the 50th minute, a push into the attacking zone by the Vikes saw a collision between Greig and Maracle resulting in a penalty kick opportunity for the home side. Dennis was calm as she stepped up to take the shot, slotting a low shot to the left of the net for their second two-goal lead of the night.
Second-half Vikes substitute Natasha Magnus provided Victoria with a pair of opportunities, nearly heading in a ball off a late Vikes set piece, while Storie was clutch in between the pipes when called upon, dropping to her right post to make a fingertip save on Dhanda midway through the final 45 minutes of play. A last-second save by Storie would secure the 3-1 victory for Victoria, who now position themselves well to host a playoff match pending the outcome of their final match Saturday.
The Thunderbirds close out their regular season, Oct. 18 against Trinity Western Spartans at Thunderbird Stadium while the Vikes host the Fraser Valley Cascades at Centennial Stadium. Both games will kick-off at 5:00 p.m. and will be streamed on www.canadawest.tv. The Vikes need just a single point in their regular season finale to host a quarter-final playoff game.
A Vikes-hosted match will take place Saturday, Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. at Centennial Stadium. Playoff ticket prices will be in effect.