Victoria–The UVic Vikes women’s soccer team found a way to battle through adversity and score goals just when they needed to, before eventually bowing out in the first round of the Canada West Select Six for the second year in a row.
Coming into the season without the offensive prowess of two-time First Team All-Canadian and reigning Canada West Most Valuable Player Emma Greig, it was always going to be a battle for the Vikes to find the back of the net.
That lack of scoring power hurt the team in a 1-0 loss to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies that saw their season come to an end with the Vikes tied for fifth in the conference.
The high point of the Vikes season came one weekend earlier.
Travelling to Abbotsford to play the Fraser Valley Cascades, the Vikes secured themselves a spot in the Canada West Select Six with a 3-2 victory over the No. 8 ranked team in the nation. Lindsay Machin, Rachel Baird and Mia Gunter all scored goals in the second half to lead the Vikes to playoff victory over the Cascades for the second-straight year.
A combination of shut down defence and spectacular goalkeeping gave the Vikes a solid start to the season. A seven save performance from Meaghan Storie in a 0-0 draw with the reigning national champion UBC Thunderbirds earned Storie the Canada West First Star of the week.
Back-to-back wins over the MacEwan Griffins and the Mount Royal Cougars vaulted UVic to No. 7 in the U Sports rankings.
With Fifth-years Machin, Samantha Lee and Storie providing experience at the back, the Vikes allowed more than two goals to be scored on them in just one game all year.
In a six-game stretch from September 16-October 1 the team recorded four shutouts while putting up a record of 3-1-2, as head coach Tracy David found different ways for the team to score in her 15th year in charge.
The Pacific Division of Canada West soccer is notoriously tough though, and the team ran into problems during three-straight games against nationally ranked teams from the Lower Mainland.
2-0 losses to UBC and TWU and a 2-1 loss to Fraser Valley ended the Vikes hopes of hosting a playoff game.
With their spot in the Canada West standings secure the Vikes went into their final weekend of regular season play with the chance to get some young players game experience while resting some starters with nagging injuries.
A 0-0 tie with the Winnipeg Wesmen and a 2-0 loss to the Manitoba Bisons saw the Vikes end the season with a record of 5-5-4, good enough for fifth-place in the Pacific Division of Canada West women’s soccer.
Storie, Lee, Machin, Sarah Douglas and Mia Gunter all played their fifth and final year of U Sports eligibility in 2016. Douglas and Gunter provided much of the scoring punch for UVic throughout the season, while Storie Lee and Machin were all key components in a formidable defence.
After the season Douglas was honoured for her hard work off the field, capturing both the Canada West Student-Athlete award as well as the U Sports Community Service award. Machin was named a Canada West Second Team All-Star for her diligent work in the centre of the Vikes defence.