For the first time since 2014 the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s soccer team has advanced to the Canada West Final Four after they downed the UVic Vikes on a snowy field in Saskatoon.
“All season we’ve been tested, we’ve bent but we haven’t broken,” said Huskies head coach Bryce Chapman. “The second half we adjusted nicely, were a little more calm and exposed them where we wanted to in the first half, I thought Marcus Baxter and our backline played excellent.”
Tobias Hyrich-Krueger was the hero, slotting in two goals in the second half to secure the victory.
“I can’t describe it, what we’ve been through as a team after having a tougher start to the season, finding our feet and then going on a run like this, it’s like a dream,” said Hyrich-Krueger.
Playing through a biting wind, the first half began cagey with both teams feeling each other out in the elimination game.
The first chance of the match came from the foot of the recently-crowned Canada West MVP as Isaac Koch whipped in a corner that just flashed through the face of goal in the 20th minute.
Hyrich-Krueger showed signs of things to come near the stroke of halftime as he unleashed a shot from a tight angle but Jas Lally in the Vikes net was able to parry the strike away and send the teams into the halftime break knotted up at zeroes.
The deadlock was broken just three minutes into the second half.
Hyrich-Krueger went on a long run by himself down the left wing, he cut back the ball onto his right foot and curled a shot to the far-side past a sprawling Lally.
The Vikes went on the offensive almost immediately after conceding.
Pressing for the equalizer Koch and Niko Cristante both had multiple chances on net, but first-year goalie Marcus Baxter came up big in the Huskies’ net, making six saves in the game and recording his fifth shutout in the last six games.
“What Marcus has done as a first year is incredible,” said Chapman. “He’s been fantastic, he’s led that back group and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Hyrich-Krueger found the insurance marker in the 75th minute.
Making an identical run down the left wing, Hyrich-Krueger whipped in a cross that bounced off a Vikes’ defender and found the back of the net.
From there the Vikes continued to press, with Jack Hill nearly flicking in a header only to be denied by Baxter.
Saskatchewan was able to ride out the remainder of the game and will now get set to travel to Vancouver for the Canada West Final Four hosted by UBC.
That action can be watched live on Canada West TV presented by Co-op.