“I thought both teams battled hard, they knew what was on the line and both teams were looking to go for it,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David. “Nobody sat back and credit to Trinity Western as well as to our team because I thought it was a good performance on both accounts.”
The draw clinches first place in the division for the Spartans as their current 10-2-1 record can only be caught by the Vikes, who now sit at 8-1-4. The Spartans, however, hold the all-important head-to-head tie-breaker between the teams with just one game left to play in the regular season.
“In the end we knew they had to win and so it was always going to be a tricky game but I was pleased with how we defended,” said Spartans head coach Graham Roxburgh. “A couple times it was in desperation but in the end we got over the line.”
Goals were always going to be at a premium in the match, as the game was a battle not only between the two teams atop the standings in the conference but also between two of the stingiest defences west of Ontario.
Combining to allow just thirteen goals against in 26 games played between them, the defences shone once again on the night as the back four for both squads were incredibly hard to break down.
Both Puck Louwes in the Vikes net and Spartans goalkeeper Christina Oliverio made two saves en route to picking up their ninth and eighth shutouts of the season respectively.
The back-and-forth game was incredibly even throughout the night, with the two teams ending the game tied in both shots and corner kicks as well as on the scoreboard.
The Spartans best chance to break the deadlock came in just the fifteenth minute of play.
Rachel Hutchinson got onto the end of a great through-ball and was clear in on net but Louwes came sliding out of her six-yard box to poke the ball off Hutchinson’s foot. The rebound bounced out to the edge of the 18-yard box but some brave defending saw multiple Vikes players throw themselves in front of the shot to deflect it away from danger.
The Vikes controlled the ball for much of the contest and that possession nearly paid off in the 57th minute of play.
Fifth-year midfielder Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez was just inches away from getting her foot ont a loose ball in the Spartans box, but Kristen Sakaki made the desperation tackle to steer the ball clear of danger.
“Our whole back four was really good tonight, especially in the second half when UVic was desperate and trying to press,” said Roxburgh.
A pair of second half substitutes made an immediate impact on the game for the Vikes. The team from Victoria controlled the game late, sending ball-after-ball into the Spartans 18-yard box but just couldn’t get the crucial finishing touch that would send the Vikes to victory.
“That’s credit to the players we brought onto the pitch, they gave us energy going forward,” said David. “Both Georgia Bignold and Trinity Kettyls did a great job. We did buzz a little bit but I think we need to create more and we need to create better scoring opportunities.”
“All you can ask for is to have an opportunity to win the game and we had that opportunity tonight,” said David.
The Vikes will now need a positive result from their season-ending game taking place in Victoria on Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. against the Fraser Valley Cascades if they are to hold off the charging UBC T-Birds to claim second place in the conference.
The Spartans will play those T-Birds in Vancouver tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m., knowing that while they have already done enough to capture the Pacific Division crown, they still need a positive result to top the conference standings.
Victoria (8-1-4) 0 0 0
TWU (10-2-1) 0 0 0
Victoria: #25 Elise Butler
TWU: #4 Elizabeth Hicks