VICTORIA – 11 different times the No. 3 ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds threw everything they could towards net and 11 different times Vikes goalie Puck Louwes had an answer, in her team’s 1-0 victory in a Canada West season-opening game played at Centennial Stadium on Sep. 2.
“She was outstanding for us, there is no doubt about it,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David. “They looked to overload our players at the back and she was awesome for us today.”
Louwes heroics in net combined with a great finish from third-year Vike Kiara Kilbey gave the Vikes the win despite being out shot 11-2 by UBC.
“It was a good game, I thought UVic worked hard and they defended well, we obviously didn’t finish our chances today and that’s something as a team that we are aware of,” said T-Birds head coach Jesse Symons. “If you don’t bury chances you don’t win and unfortunately we didn’t bury our chances today.”
With both teams taking some time to find their rhythm it took until the 30th minute for the T-Birds to work their way into what was the first of many chances in the game.
A well placed cross from the wing found T-Birds forward Jasmin Dhanda all alone in front of the net but Louwes met her powerful shot and was able to hold onto the ball to avoid giving up a second-chance opportunity.
In the 32nd minute the Vikes worked their way through a sturdy UBC defence and made no mistake when the chance to take the lead presented itself.
A nice through ball from Rachel Baird found Kilbey in full-stride and the forward calmly lifted her head before depositing the ball past Marlee Maracle and into the net.
After gaining the advantage, Louwes and a formidable Vikes defence refused to give it back.
“They had a strong game today and we needed them to have a strong game,” said David of her team’s defence. “I’m proud of the team for playing as well as they did.”
Louwes made her best save of the game right before the stroke of halftime.
Aman Shergill let loose a thunderbolt of a shot from long distance that seemed destined for the back of the net before the Vikes goalie appeared out of nowhere to deflect the ball away from harm.
“I saw her coming and nobody was pressing so I just kept dropping and then she hit it perfectly top corner,” said Louwes. “At that point you just have to jump, throw your arm out and hope it hits the ball.”
UBC continued to press for the equalizer in the second half but whether it was a timely interception from the Vikes defence or yet another Louwes save, the Vikes were able to weather the storm and emerge victorious.
“(UBC) are a very strong team, there is no doubt about it,” said David. “I know that they had the majority of the possession and they know that too, it’s important for us to get these three points because we are in such a competitive division that every point matters and I am taking these points and running with them.”
The win moves the Vikes to 1-0-0 in the young soccer season. They get the chance to build on the momentum they created with today’s victory when they play next weekend on the road against the Fraser Valley Cascades and the Trinity Western Spartans.
UBC meanwhile will get the chance to improve upon their record of 0-1-1 when they return to Vancouver for games against those very same Cascades and Spartans.