Vikes men’s field hockey score early but lose late

Kevin Laidman Coach

Kevin Laidman
Men’s Head Coach 

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s field hockey were close to finding their first win as a 70thminute goal served an unfortunate 3-2 loss. The Vikes battled with the top team in the league – a Vancouver Hawks team laden with Canadian National Team talent.

“The guys played a very good game today against exceptional opponents,” said Kevin Laidman, Vikes men’s field hockey head coach. “We would have loved to get a win here today but this performance is a big confidence booster. We showed that we have what it takes to play with any team in our league.”

The Hawks boast a roster including national team members David Jameson, Ben
Martin, Hudson Stewart, Iain Smythe, Matt Bissett, Brandon Barber and
goal keeper Tristan Burgoyne. However, it was the Vikes who started off the game looking like the stronger and more experienced team, making amends for their slow start to the season (0-4).

The Vikes had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the fourth minute when Tyler Klenk slid in at the far post only to re-direct the ball inches wide of the goalmouth. Moments later, the Vikes earned two penalty corners in quick succession. Connor Martin was saved on the first attempt, but Brenden Bissett fired the ball home on the second set piece to give the Vikes the 1-0 lead after only five minutes of play.

The Vikes kept up their relentless pressure, with Connor Martin fighting through a challenge to take a back-hand blast from the top of the circle. Alex Smith was perfectly positioned in front of the keeper and deflected the ball in for a 2-0 Vikes lead after seven minutes.

The teams exchanged chances throughout the rest of the first half, but the
Vikes were unable to capitalize to extend their lead. Keeper Toby Owen made numerous saves in goal for the Vikes, who maintained their 2-0 tilt at halftime.

The second half started much like the first, with the Vikes dominating play and creating dangerous scoring chances. A long aerial pass from Connor Martin to Brenden Bissett created a two-on-one with Smith, but Smith was robbed by a diving save in the bottom corner from Hawks keeper Burgoyne.

As the half wore on, the Hawks started to control the play and applied heavy pressure on the Vikes defence. Young Vikes defenders Riley Tringham and Greg Tonkin stood strong against their internationally experienced opponents including Jameson, Canada’s highest capped current player. The Hawks earned six penalty corners in the game but Owen and his defence line denied all six.

In the 62nd minute, a long series of passes created a an opportunity for
Canadian standout Iain Smythe, who was finally able to beat Owen in the
Vikes net, cutting the margin to 2-1 for Victoria.

With only five minutes to go, another aerial pass from Connor Martin to Brenden
Bissett again set up Smith for a great scoring chance in front of the Hawks goal. This time, Smith was deprived by a diving save in the top corner.

The Hawks rushed the ball back up the field as the home team frantically pushed to tie the game. Some clever passing opened up a shooting chance for team Canada’s Hudson Stewart, who found the corner of the goal, beating Owen to tie the game up at 2-2 with only two minutes remaining.

The Vikes worked the ball up into the Hawks’ end in the last minute and thought they had earned a penalty corner, only to have the call go against them. The Hawks quickly worked the ball up to Matthew Bissett, brother of Vike Brenden, who used his speed to beat his defender and go in alone on Owen. Matthew Bissett was fowled from behind as he shot and was awarded a penalty stroke. Smythe stepped up and calmly placed the stroke into the top corner to put the Hawks ahead 3-2.

The final whistle blew as play resumed, making the final 3-2 for Hawks.

“Today was a big step forward as a team,” added Laidman. “Our defence and structure was solid and we were disciplined. We still need to capitalize on more of our chances, as that is what ended up costing us.”

The Vikes will regroup, still on the hunt for their first win, for their next game on Oct. 25 at 3:00 p.m. in Vancouver against mainland rivals, UBC Thunderbirds.

HAWKS: 0 – 3 : 3
UVIC: 2 – 0 :2

HAWKS: Iain Smythe (62′, 70′), Hudson Stewart (67′)
UVIC: Brenden Bissett (5′), Alex Smith (7′)