Statement game against Pandas gets Vikes back on winning track

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VICTORIA – Madeleine Graham had a statement game with four tries and Jess Neilson added three converts and two penalty goals to lead the UVic Vikes to a 42-17 victory over the University of Alberta Pandas on Friday at Wallace Field.

Amanda Smith, Amee Svatos and rookie Emily Bielech had tries for Alberta, who came in victorious in their only game of the season against Lethbridge. The Vikes are now 2-1 on the season while the Pandas move to 1-1.

“Usually the score is reversed [against Alberta] so it’s very exciting to have this win and that performance that we put in,” said Vikes head coach Brittany Waters.

Graham and the Vikes came out hot in the first half, pouring in 31 points while holding the Pandas off the board. Alberta pressed early but from there it was all Vikes, led by four tries from Graham and three converts from Neilson.

“Maddie had great finishing skills today,” said Waters. “Very, very positive game for her.” The team did their job in the middle as well and gave her that space, which is exactly our game plan—we have to hit it up in the middle to be able to play wide but she did an amazing job finishing—great footwork, great power. Really proud of her.”

The Pandas came out rejuvenated at the beginning of the second half, as Smith ran in Alberta’s first try of the game. Victoria responded with a try from Gurpreet Dhaliwal but the Pandas refused to go away, getting tries from Svatos and Bielech before the end of the match.

Bielech’s try was the first of her university career. It was a wakeup call for Waters and the Vikes.

“Credit to them—they played a smart game in the second half and attacked us in our gaps in defence,” said Waters. “It came down more to our defensive structure and their smart decision making.”

The Vikes won’t be back on the field until October 16, when they’ll welcome the Lethbridge Pronghorns to Wallace Field. The Pandas will get right back on the field Sunday when they head to Vancouver to take on the UBC Thunderbirds.

“There are still lots of areas for us to improve in,” said Waters. “Definitely a better performance than last week [against Calgary] so we’ll keep putting in the hard work and just sort of tighten up some of the areas that we weren’t that strong in today.”

SCORING SUMMARY
UVIC: 31-11: 42
AB: 0-17: 17

SCORERS SUMMARY
UVic Try – #14 Madeleine Graham (convert missed) – 5-0
UVic Try – #2 Julia Folk (#10 Jess Neilson convert) – 12-0
UVic Try – #14 Madeleine Graham (convert missed) – 17-0
UVic Try – #14 Madeleine Graham (#10 Jess Neilson convert) – 24-0
UVic Try – #14 Madeleine Graham (#10 Jess Neilson convert) – 31 – 0

HALF-TIME

AB Try – #10 Amanda Smith (convert missed) 31-5
UVic Try #11 Gurpreet Dhaliwal (convert missed) 36-5
AB Try – #8 Amee Svatos (convert missed) – 36-10
UVic Pen – #10 Jess Neilson – 39-10
UVic Pen – #10 Jess Neilson – 42-10
AB Try – #23 Emily Bielech (#12 Sarah Farley convert) – 42-17

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