By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s soccer are set to make their annual return to Florida this week, Feb. 2-13, as head coach Tracy David is well into her way to shaping her squad for the 2016-17 season. The Vikes will play three exhibition games against NCAA schools Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast and Florida International, while booking in five training sessions at the exceptional Florida Atlantic training grounds.
“This is very good competition for us and it is different competition than what we are used to playing so it should be both interesting and fun,” said David about the spring tour. “It’s a good opportunity for us to let some of our first and second year players, who had little playing time in the fall, get on the field.”
David notes players like first-year central midfielder Alynn Dagg and first-year left defender London Coronica, both Victoria natives, will get a crack at this high-level competition. Vikes Sarah Douglas,Megan Elder and Shannon Elder will not be travelling with the team, opening up playing time for rookie midfielder Rachel Baird.
“We’ve played these teams almost every year,” said David about the tour to Florida that has pre-dated her career with the Vikes. “This year Florida Atlantic have a lot more internationals than usual. They usually have Canadians on their roster as their international players but this year they also have players from Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, Iceland and England.”
The Vikes capped off their Canada West season with a 7-3-4 record to finish fourth in the West Division of the conference, while fifth-year striker Emma Greig was named the Canada West MVP. Greig and fellow senior Shannon Elder are the lone graduates that will not return for the 2016-17 season making this week’s tour even more important for the up-and-comers on the squad.
“We are looking for consistent performances all games,” said David reflecting on last year’s results which were all one or two goal games until their 7-0 loss to Florida Gulf Coast on their last day. “It’s a bit of a different trip, for example, we have to drive two and a half hours on the morning of to get to Florida Gulf Coast and we wouldn’t normally do that for a regular season game. It’s also reading break and the girls are studying for exams and I even have to supervise the writing of exams while on tour.”
Nonetheless this different competition experience will be a valuable one for the Vikes who face Florida Atlantic on Feb. 7 (3:00 p.m. PST), Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 9 (7:00 a.m. PST) and Florida International on Feb. 11 (6:00 a.m. PST). The team will also train at Florida Atlantic on Feb. 4, 7, 8, 10 and 12.