The Calgary Dinos became the fourth and final semifinalist on Thursday evening at the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Soccer Championship, defeating the host Victoria Vikes 1-0 in front of a boisterous hometown crowd.
“I thought we were really resilient tonight and we brought a good, fighting spirit. We believed that we could beat Calgary and we almost did,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David. “Who knows what would have happened if a few of those chances early or Trinity (Kettyl)’s header in the second half go in. Calgary is a very good team and we knew that going in. They didn’t budge tonight.”
The first 10 minutes of the game saw both the Vikes and Dinos battle for possession as each team tried to find their rhythm. Both teams managed to get balls into the box but both back lines and goalies stood steadfast in their defense.
Spurred on by the crowd’s “Let’s go Vikes” chant, Kiara Kilbey almost got onto the end of a through ball in the 27th minute but it was intercepted by Dino keeper Lauren Houghton. The flow settled into a kind of a sustained pressure versus counter-attack game as both teams fought to keep control in the opposition end. It was an incredibly physical match with both teams unwilling to take their foot off the gas.
At halftime, the game remained scoreless.
The Vikes started aggressively in the second half, earning a corner kick within the first minute and just missing wide. In the 52nd minute, the Vikes were awarded a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. Kettyls got her head on the end of the Rachel Baird kick which landed just wide of the net.
Just as UVic was sustaining some pressure, Calgary’s Rachel Barlow took a deft shot from about 25 yards out into the top left hand corner of the net in the 58th minute to break the deadlock.
“I wanted to make a difference when I went on, that’s the major thing,” said Barlow. “Sometimes you have a different perspective when you are sitting on the bench the whole time… when you come on you know exactly what to do.”
Calgary’s back four were impenetrable, as they continued to stifle any UVic threat. An 83rd minute corner kick for the Vikes resulted in a mad scramble in the box only to be whistled dead by the referee. Any sniff of a chance was snuffed out by a smothering Calgary defence which bent but never broke throughout the contest.
“On the day off tomorrow we got some recovery to do… have a classroom session and regroup,” said Dinos head coach Troye Flannery. “I didn’t think we were ourselves in the first half, a little bit nervous a little bit uptight. I thought we were much better in the second half. We’ve got a few special players that are evasive in possession and they certainly looked evasive today…we got to keep going – it’s about confidence and about one game at a time,”
The Dinos advance to the semifinals on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. against the Toronto Varsity Blues. The Vikes will play the Cape Breton Capers on Friday in the consolation semifinal at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT.
“Sometimes, in big games, you just have to go for it. Our team showed that tonight with the fight we put in and the way we worked for this one,” said Kilbey. “It wasn’t the result that we wanted, but I am really proud of this team for how we came out and played tonight. I thought we were unlucky to lose this one.”