By Ali Lee,
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – This weekend’s single-header is a must-win for the University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team who host Fraser Valley on Oct. 25 at Centennial Stadium for the Canada West quarter-finals. A win will put the Vikes into the conference Final Four and one step closer to a spot at this year’s CIS championship.
After regular season play the Vikes finished with an 8-1-3 record and although they have one less loss than Pacific Division leaders and defending CIS champions UBC, they are second in the division by one point. As such, the might T-Birds (9-2-1) host UBC Okanagan (5-5-2) in the other Pacific Division match up, while conference leaders Saskatchewan host Winnipeg and Calgary hosts Alberta. The winners will move on to play in the Final Four hosted by the top-seeded Prairie Division team that wins this weekend.
Victoria suffered only one loss this season and that was on Sept. 5 at their home opener to UBC by a score of 3-1. From there the Vikes went on to win five games in a row before closing out their season with a dramatic finish. In a weekend where wins seemed in their favour, the Vikes tied both Trinity Western (0-0) on Oct. 10 and Fraser Valley (1-1) on Oct. 11. Following their two-point weekend the Vikes knew that their last weekend of play was pivotal.
On Oct. 17 against UBC, Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson rested the majority of his starters anticipating an important game against Fraser Valley on Oct. 17 for hosting rights of their quarter-final game. Much to Wilson’s surprise and delight, the young Vikes line up that showed up on the Friday night served UBC their second loss of the season. Dominic Colantonio dished out two goals in the final seven minutes of the game to give the Vikes three points and a confidence booster entering their eventual 3-1 win over the Cascades on the Saturday.
The Oct. 17 victory for the young Vikes line up showcases the depth of an already experienced starting squad. That includes senior striker Cameron Stokes, who is second in the conference in scoring with eight goals, while Colantonio has four to his name.
Midfielder Cam Hundal, a former CIS championship MVP and Canada West Rookie of the Year, has been quiet on the stats sheet but on the pitch is undoubtedly a necessary cog to the Vikes’ success. Keeper Noah Pawlowski, a third-year transfer, has posted four shutouts and a 0.800 save percentage in 11 games played. Pawlowski’s success is largely due to the solid efforts of defenders Rhyse Harnden, Alex Redpath and Adam Ravenhill.
The Cascades have had most of their scoring come from senior Colton O’Neill (five goals, three assists), while the talents of veterans Ryan Liddiard, Ravi Singh and Juan Pablo Mora Perea are always critical on the pitch. Senior keeper Mark Village has split duties with freshman Alex Skrzeta in goal, while the Cascades finished third in the Pacific and eight points back of the Vikes.
The Vikes will kick-off this Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7:15 p.m. at UVic’s Centennial Stadium.