It took a little luck but the UVic Vikes men’s soccer team escaped with its fifth straight win on Sunday, beating the Lethbridge Pronghorns 1-0 at Centennial Stadium.
The Vikes downed the Calgary Dinos 3-1 on Saturday and are now first in Canada West and haven’t lost in 10 games dating back to a 2-1 loss against Trinity Western University on Sept. 10.
Wins over the Saskatchewan Huskies (four wins, six losses and two ties) and Alberta Golden Bears(6-2-4) on the road this weekend would clinch first place for the Vikes (8-2-2), meaning they’d pick up the hosting priveleges for the Canada West Championship, Nov. 5 and 6. The Vikes automatically qualify as hosts of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships, Nov. 10 to 13.
“We’re in the mix to win nationals, there’s no reason not to be,” said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson. “But it’s a very tough Canada West (conference).”
With fleet-footed Vikes Thomas Mallette and Andrew Ravenhill running freely in Lethbridge’s zone, Sunday’s shutout could have come with a little less stress, Wilson said.
“We could have finished on some of (our) chances. A bit of experience comes with these shutouts,” Wilson said, noting the Pronghorns had many dangerous chances. “Sometimes, teams in Lethbridge’s position (out of the playoffs) are like wounded animals. They’re most dangerous when they have nothing to play for.”
Colin Wilson scored the Vikes’ only goal against Lethbridge, heading in a corner kick from Wes Barrett near the end of the first half.
But with key veterans Peter Richmond and Jordie Oberg out of the lineup with minor injuries, the close score provided for a few hairy moments against the flow of the play.
One giant lob in the 90th minute arched over Vikes goalkeeper Daniel Kilpatrick and defender Bobby Eng, only to bounce square off the top of the crossbar.
“Nervous,” Kilpatrick said about what he felt at the time. “It ended up getting between me and the striker. I was (left) hoping it would bounce over the bar.”
It was the second win of the season for Kilpatrick, a fifth-year student who shares goalie duties with fellow Oak Bay High grad Eliott Mitrou (third-year).
“We got the shutout which is all that matters, but hopefully we can get a few goals this weekend to give our back end a bit of a buffer,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick is working at a masters in public health and social policy and is one of a few players returning after time away from the Vikes.
Both Richmond and Miguel Romeo missed last season, though Kilpatrick was there as an assistant coach.
Kilpatrick was also a member of the Gorge senior men’s team that won silver at the 2010 Canadian national championships.
Richmond and Oberg did not dress on Sunday, nursing minor injuries, but both will travel to the Prairies this weekend, Wilson said.
Wilson gave a nod to David Adams, Cam Hundal, Craig Gorman, and the Barrett brothers, Wes and Gavin, as players who’ve come around and are making the Vikes successful.
Rookie shows Elder savvy
Just six months ago Shannon Elder was patrolling midfield for the Claremont Spartans. Her team won the Island championship but fell in the provincial final.
Elder’s penchant for big games continued this week as the roookie scored twice in three minutes to lift the Vikes women’s soccer team over the Fraser Valley Cascades 2-1 in Abbotsford on Saturday.
The win keeps the Vikes women’s playoff hopes alive with a record of 6-4-3, tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Canada West standings with the Calgary Dinos (6-3-3).
The Vikes host Fraser Valley (3-7-3) at noon tomorrow (Oct. 29) and need a win and some outside luck if they’re to make the Canada West Championship.
Calgary has an extra game to play but also have a tough draw hosting first-place Trinity Western Spartans (10-1-1) and second-place UBC Thunderbirds (9-1-2) this weekend.