By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team wasted no time grabbing their first win of their CIS season after a 3-0 win over the UNBC Timberwolves in front a vivacious 2,383 fans at Centennial Stadium on Sept. 11. The annual home opener event, known as Days of Thunder, featured sky divers bringing in the game ball, with a sea of white Vikes Nation shirts filling the stands.
“It was a professional environment out here,” described Bruce Wilson, head coach of the Vikes in his 28th season. “The crowd was electric and very supportive of the team.”
The home side put away three quality goals, first from Craig Gorman from the spot in the eighth minute, and then free play goals from Keevan Webb in the 29th and Cam Hundal in the 41st. Keeper Noah Pawlowski wasn’t that busy but when needed was in top form, logging his first shutout of the season.
UNBC were easily led by keeper Tyrone Venhola who faced 21 shots, nine on goal, while forward Brandon Wallace was easily the biggest threat up front for the Timberwolves. UNBC mustered just three shots in the game and worked hard to play with just five subs on their bench.
“This year we want to make full use of our senior players and it’s up to them, our best players, to have the best games,” added Wilson of Gorman, Hundal, Pawloski and midfielder Dominic Colantonio. “We had early goals which is good. Sometimes it’s difficult when a team defends like that in numbers but we are playing at home on our field and it’s up to us to do that and our senior players stepped up and did just that.
Home field advantage was evident right from the opening whistle as the Vikes had three shots in just the fourth minute of play. Fifth-year midfielder Gorman blasted a shot to force a close-range save out of Venhola, while the rebound landed for Gareth Langdon. Langdon’s shot was blocked by a gritty UNBC defence line and the resulting lose ball was again struck by Gorman and again blocked by the Timberwolves.
Just four minutes later the Vikes were able to find the back of the net on a Gorman penalty kick. Sam Prette was hauled down on the right sight of the box by Timberwolves defender Daniel Goodey to allow Gorman the honours of burying the game’s first goal from the spot. The co-captain made no mistake fooling Venhola and accurately placing the ball in the bottom left corner for a 1-0 Vikes lead.
Both team’s started to settle in with possession still favouring the Vikes, while UNBC defenders Cornad Rowlands and Goodey were doing well to limit Victoria chances. In the 29th minute the Vikes grabbed their second goal on a surprising strike from Vikes newcomer Webb. The third-year transfer from Peninsula Co-op shocked Venhola after eliminating a UNBC midfielder and burying a long-bomb from 25 yards out. The 2-0 advantage held for another 12 minutes of play.
Fifth-year co-captain Hundal brought the home team’s tally to three after an individual effort near the left end line. The former CIS Championship MVP (2011) made good on a second-chance opportunity curling the ball into the side of the net to give the Vikes a 3-0 lead entering half time.
In the second half the Timberwolves started to show fatigue, while the efforts of their leaders Tofa Fakunle, Brett Bobier and keeper Venhola seemed to keep the team’s pace up. The Timberwolves’ best chance came on a great run from UNBC’s Gordon Hall, who eliminated Vikes defender Adam Ravenhill, to free up some space for a shot on goal. Hall’s low blast on net was saved by a fully out-stretched right arm of Victoria net minder Pawlowski.
Victoria showed little evidence of letting down as a series of runs sparked by the dynamic senior duo of Hundal and Gorman forced Venhola to barely rest. In the 66th minute Hundal danced his way through the box testing Venhola from very close range.
Both teams were able to test their bench in the later minutes as the Vikes received a late boost from the speed of rookie Isaac Koch up front. UNBC struggled to penetrate the Vikes back line and the home side settled with their first-half tallies and took the game 3-0 to now have a Canada West record of 1-0-1. The Timberwolves are now 0-1.
“It takes a lot of pressure of the starters right now knowing that we can run really hard, work really hard and when we are tired there are guys that we are confident can come in and make a difference,” added Gorman about the performance of the Vikes’ late substitutions.
The Vikes and Timberwolves will match up again tomorrow, Sept. 12, at Centennial Stadium in Victoria at 7:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on pay-per-view at uvic.canadawest.tv.
“I think tomorrow is a better fit for us because today was our first game, new coach, big crowd and the first 45 minutes were just getting through the environment,” said UNBC head coach Steve Simonson, who coached his first game for the Timberwolves. “Tomorrow will be game on and we know we are playing a good team.”
UNBC: 0-0 : 0
UVIC: 3-0 : 3
UVIC: Craig Gorman (8′ PK), Keevan Webb (29′), Cam Hundal (41′)
UNBC: Gordon Hall
UVIC: Keevan Webb