VICTORIA – Another season, another year of change for the UVic Vikes women’s soccer team as a roster full of faces both familiar and fresh prepare for their first game of the 2017 Canada West season against the UBC T-Birds, taking place inside Centennial Stadium at 2:00 p.m., on Sep. 2.
Gone from the squad are a group that formed the spine of a formidable defence last season. Midfielder Sarah Douglas, Defenders Lindsay Machin and Samantha Lee as well as Goalkeeper Meaghan Storieall played a large part in the Vikes recording seven shutouts and surrendering just 14 goals in their 15 Canada West games a year ago.
Machin in particular will be difficult for the Vikes to replace as head coach Tracy David said that Machin was, “My voice on the field,” before noting that Machin did a great job of holding both herself and her teammates to a high standard.
While it is impossible to replace players on a person-by-person basis, defence should once again be an area of strength for the Vikes.
Third-year Goalkeeper Puck Louwes recorded two shutouts in the three games that she started for the Vikes last season, allowing just one goal through 270 minutes of play. With both Katie Carrothers and Elise Butler providing a veteran presence in the defence in front of Louwes, opposing offences will be dealing with a deal of frustration whenever they take to the field across from the Vikes.
Perhaps the most experienced area of the field for the Vikes will be the all-important middle of the pitch. Fifth-year Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez and fourth-year Emily Lieuwen will be counted on to provide a solid base in front of the defence as well as provide good service to the forwards.
A combination of speed and skill will lead the way for the Vikes up front, as the team once again takes the approach of scoring-by-committee into the season. David pointed to Kiara Kilbey and Georgia Bignold as players that have speed to burn and can cause havoc for opposing defences.
While David said that the team still has to hard work ahead of them to build a spine as strong as the team had last year, the preseason has been full of promising results. Four goals in two games against Peninsula College and Simon Fraser points to an offence that may be able to convert at a better rate than the 15 goals they scored in 14 Canada West games last season.
While the names on the back of the jersey may change from year-to-year, some things remain the same and the rivalry between the Vikes and T-Birds is sure to be just as close this year as in season’s past.
“It is a really strong rivalry and playing UBC always seems to bring the best out of us,” said David.
Last season the Vikes hung tough with UBC, earning a 0-0 tie to start the season before losing 2-0 to the T-Birds in Vancouver. UBC went on to tear through the Canada West playoffs before claiming a silver medal at the U SPORTS National Championship.
For the Vikes, their season came to an end in the first round of the Canada West Select Six at the hands of the Saskatchewan Huskies, but not before they earned their seventh straight playoff appearance.
UBC Thunderbirds (6-3-5)
Canada West Standings: 7 (Pacific: 4)
Canada West Playoffs: 6-1 (Canada West: 1, U SPORTS: 2)
Last Canada West Title: 2016
Last U SPORTS Title: 2015