Vikes end regular season in style

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Nikki Koutsochilis (photo)

Nikki Koutsochilis (photo)

On a weekend that honoured their graduating senior players, the Vikes men’s soccer team earned back-to-back wins and ended the regular season with just one loss. A 2-1 win against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and a 3-1 victory versus the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades means the Vikes finish in 2nd place in the Canada West Pacific Division with a 9-1-3 record.

This weekend was especially important for the Vikes seniors, including Rhyse Harnden, Craig Taylor, Spencer McKinnon, Cam Stokes, Adam Plantinga, Alex Redpath, Dominic Colantonio and Aaron Murphywho played their final regular season games with the Vikes and are preparing to graduate this coming June.

Heading into the weekend, history was against them (the Vikes’ last win against UBC was in 2011). The home side did very well to come back against a UBC side that had only lost once coming into the first match of the weekend.

UBC struck first, as forward Niall Cousensa player well-known to the UVic defense after scoring twice when the two teams met in Septemberfound midfielder Jules Chopin in the box, who buried the ball past Vikes goalkeeper Cole Tamburri to give UBC a 1-0 lead heading into half-time.

After dominating the second half, the game looked all but wrapped up for UBC, until defender Bryan Fong gave away a foul inside the penalty area after 83 minutes. Dominic Colantoniowho had come on as a substitute in the 70th minutestepped up to take the penalty, and finished coolly inside the bottom right hand corner to bring the Vikes level. Colantonio then found space at the top of the box just minutes later, and his controlled finish, and second goal of the night, meant the Vikes would take all three points from the game.

The Vikes and Colantonio then carried that momentum straight into the second game of the weekend against UFV, going up 1-0 after just 32 seconds.

Colantonio again was crucial, and his ball, played across the face of the goal, was met by forward Cam Hundal to give UVic the lead.

It didn’t take long for UFV to level the score. Fraser Valley striker Elijah Sampson was played through on goal following a lovely through ball from midfielder Connor O’Neill, and despite goalkeeper Noah Pawlowski making the initial save, Kree Byrne was able to bundle the ball over the line.

Both teams are set to meet in the Canada West playoffs after the Vikes’ 3-1 win, with 2nd place UVic set to host the 3rd place Cascades at Centennial Stadium. 

Mark Village, the Cascades’ goalkeeper, was in terrific form throughout the night, yet was helpless to stop Rhyse Harnden tapping home Alex Redpath’s free kick—the two seniors linked up well to give UVic the lead at 66 minutes.

Cam Stokes, another graduating player, wrapped up the game when he finished off Michael Baart’s cross in additional time. It was Stokes’ eighth goal of the regular season, and he finishes the season as the Vikes’ top scorer.

However, Colantonio was undoubtedly the star of the weekend for the Vikes, and his two goals and one assist helped UVic finish strong with six points from their final two matches. It was the best possible way to end what has been a good season for the Vikes, and they will head into the Canada West Playoffs full of confidence.

“It was an exciting weekend,” says Colantonio. “And it’s nice to get a victory in the last game, as well. We lost our first game but we’ve been undefeated since, so it’s been a good run.”

The Vikes will host the Canada West quarterfinal on Saturday, Oct. 25 at Centennial Stadium. Game time is 7:15 p.m.

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