VICTORIA—The old adage is that hope springs eternal for every team before the season gets under way, that is certainly the case for the fourth-ranked 2016 Vikes women’s soccer team.
It will be a season of transition for Victoria. Gone are leaders from years past, however, just because the players have changed doesn’t mean that head coach Tracy David‘s goals have in her 15th season at the helm for UVic.
“Our goal is to win a national championship every year, but to do that we first have to make the Canada West playoffs,” said David.
If the Vikes achieve their goal of making the playoffs it would be a sixth straight playoff appearance for a squad that has missed out on the post season just twice in the last 15 years.
This is a team that is going to rely on the stability of a strong defence. Returning for their fifth year of eligibility are goalkeeper Meaghan Storie and centre-back Lindsay Machin, both of whom were Canada West second team all-stars last year.
“We have experience in the back, which I think is a really important place to be experienced,” said David.
Of the Vikes eight players entering either their fourth or fifth-year of CIS play, six of them are predominantly defensive players.
The transition for this team then, will come up front. Gone from the squad are Emma Greig andShannon Elder. Greig, who led the Vikes in points with three goals and five assists, was named the Canada West MVP last year and her offensive prowess will be sorely missed.
“The one key ingredient is Emma Greig. You just can’t replace an Emma Greig. You can’t replace somebody who is so good at going one-on-one, so good at scoring goals,” said David. “She was strong, strong, strong and created havoc whenever she played. We could be playing Barcelona, but if she was in the line-up I felt that we had a chance.”
To replace the production of Greig and Elder, UVic will have to take a scoring by committee approach.
“When you lose two experienced players out of your lineup you have got to find ways to deal with that loss. I think we are definitely going to have to work really hard to score goals,” David said.
The task of finding the back of the net will primarily fall upon two returning players and one fresh addition to the UVic lineup.
Kiara Kilbey led the Vikes with six goals in 14 games last year in her first season of Canada West soccer and David is looking to her to continue her growth as a soccer player.
“Kilbey is a striker, she’s quick, she has one year under her belt now,” said David. “She scored some goals last year for us and it’s her time to step up.”
Mia Gunter, the former University of Oregon Duck striker, recorded six points while playing through a nagging injury last year and David expects her to bring, “Grit, determination and competitiveness,” to the team.
Someone new to the team that could potentially make an impact is forward Georgia Bignold from Calgary, AB. Bignold has been filling the net during the pre-season and has impressed David.
The Vikes saw their 2015 season end in heart-breaking fashion. They made it all the way to the Canada West final six tournament, only to lose in the quarter-finals when the Calgary Dinos scored a goal late in injury time.
Victoria gets the season started with a tough matchup. They host the defending national champion UBC Thunderbirds at Centennial Stadium on Sep. 3 at 2 p.m.
The Vikes will be looking for revenge, last season’s home-opener was against these very same Thunderbirds and UBC took that contest by a score of 1-0. There is reason to be optimistic for Victoria though, UBC failed to win just three games in the entire 2015 season. One of those games was a hard-fought 2-2 draw that the Vikes earned on UBC’s home turf.
2016 Canada West Women’s Soccer Coaches Poll
Team / Points (first-place votes)
- UBC / 220 (14)
- TWU / 208
- Calgary / 177 (1)
- Victoria / 176
- Fraser Valley / 173
- Saskatchewan / 167
- Alberta / 155 (1)
- MacEwan / 123
- Manitoba / 114
- UBCO / 82
- Mount Royal / 70
- Regina / 66
- Thompson Rivers / 57
- UNBC / 51
- Lethbridge / 45
- Winnipeg / 36
NOTES: Teams received 15 points for a first-place vote, 14 for a second-place vote etc.
2015 CW regular season record: 7-3-4, 3rd Pacific