The decision was in doubt until the very final kick of the game but the UVic Vikes women’s soccer team could not bounce back from a two-goal deficit in their 2-1 U SPORTS Nationals Quarter-final loss to the Cape Breton Capers on Nov. 9.
“Our players really wanted to play well but Cape Breton is usually at the National Championships as the AUS representative and their experience showed today,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David. “When the going got tough, they got tougher and are a very difficult opponent to play against.”
First-year forward Victoria Wulff scored the lone goal of the game for the Vikes in the 83rd minute of play, while Fatou Ndiaye and Ciera Disipio scored for Cape Breton.
Puck Louwes made seven saves, including two outstanding stops to keep the game close late, in the defeat.
The first half was a fast-paced back and forth affair with both teams searching for the opening goal.
It was the Vikes who got out of the gates the better of the two teams as they controlled possession early and earned two corner kicks in the first five minutes of play.
The Capers were able to withstand the Vikes early pressure and then worked their way back into the game through some quick passing.
The first real chance of the game came in the 25th minute of play when Capers midfielder Ciera Disipio put a laser beam of a shot on net. Louwes, recently named a first team All-Canadian, made the save look easy however and the third-year goalie was able to hold onto the ball to avoid giving up a dangerous rebound.
The two teams would battle hard throughout the rest of the half but both defences stood strong to deny anymore clear-cut scoring opportunities.
Cape Breton made their quickness up-front pay off in the second half.
The Capers took the lead just five minutes after the halftime break when the ball took an awkward bounce off the indoor turf and popped up into the air, allowing Ndiaye to split the Vikes defence and fire a shot into the back of the net.
The Vikes responded immediately and almost evened the game up just one minute later when a corner kick from Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez found the head of Emily Lieuwen, but her effort was plucked out of the air by a diving Lysianne Trottier in the Capers net.
In the 54th minute Louwes kept the game close the by making a point-blank foot save on a shot from inside the 18-yard box. The goalie then rose above the goalmouth scramble to collect the ensuing corner kick.
The Capers lead was doubled in the 62nd minute when Keona Simmonds laid a beautiful ball off to Disipio and her shot from the edge of the 18-yard box rocketed underneath a diving Louwes.
“We weren’t sharp defensively as a team and if you don’t play your best at a National Championship you aren’t going to win,” said David.
Despite being down 2-0 the Vikes persistence never wavered.
“We had a lot of pressure late and that’s credit to the players that came in off the bench, they gave us a real lift and made a difference for us,” said David of Wulff, Aislinn Shinomura, Olivia Swinton and Trinity Kettyls who all entered the game in the second half. “They responded very well and it bodes well for the future but we understand how difficult it is to get out of Canada West and I think that’s why everybody is profoundly disappointed. When you are here you want to play your best game and I don’t feel that we had our best game today.”
They were able to pull one back in the 83rd minute when a pass in by Brea Christie found Wulff in full stride. The second half substitute was able to overpower a Capers defender to win the ball and slide a shot in near-post past a diving Trottier.
The Vikes continued pressing for the equalizer and they absolutely dominated possession in the final minutes of play.
All of that pressure nearly paid off in the 89th minute of play when a dangerous ball sent into the 18-yard box bounced around the mouth of goal. It was a Capers defender that got the final touch on the ball, however, to simultaneously clear it away from danger and send her team onto the National Semifinals.
While the Vikes can no longer win the National title, their tournament is far from over.
The team will have to regroup quickly ahead of their consolation Semifinal that will be played Friday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. Awaiting the Vikes in that game is the No. 1 seeded Laval Rouge et Or who were upset by the No. 8 seed Western Mustangs in their quarter-final match.
“Laval is probably the best team here, they are well-organized and have fantastic players,” said David. “Tomorrow is going to be a tough match but the positive out of this is that we are going to play a very, very good team and that is going to be some great experience for us.”
Victoria (11-3-4) 0 1 1
CBU (14-0-1) 0 2 2
Victoria: #9 Emily Lieuwen
CBU: #8 Ciera Disipio