Vikes stumble, regain form

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Hugo Wong (photo)

Hugo Wong (photo)

An injury-time header from Cam Stokes rescued a point in a tight affair between the UVic men’s soccer team and UBC Okanagan Heat that ended in a 1-1 draw on Friday night.

UBCO will leave Victoria feeling unfortunate as they came close to what would’ve been an impressive win. However, the Vikes controlled play for the majority of the game but defensive carelessness in their defensive zone nearly cost them the match. In the 57th minute, UBCO forward Enzo Paal put the visitors ahead and forced the Vikes on to the attack.

The front four players — Cameron Stokes, Cam Hundal, Craig Gorman, and Michael Baart — found life difficult against a stoic UBCO defense, but Stokes’ 90th minute equalizer saved UVic blushes in a game that should’ve been beyond doubt a long time before.

Fullbacks Sam Prette and Andrew Ravenhill looked menacing on either flank as UVic dominated the early exchanges while left-midfielder Gorman’s incisive runs created chances for Stokes and Hundal, with UBCO goalkeeper Christopher Cuthillup to the challenge on both occasions.

What began as a fairly fast paced and frenetic game didn’t last long, however, and the game soon became a back-and-forth affair with both teams struggling to retain possession for any large amount of time.

Early in the game, the Vikes were unable to take advantage of their possession and were punished when UBCO took the lead in the 56th minute. After some lovely one-touch passing from Okanagan at the top of the UVic box, forward Jordan Lieb played an incisive ball across the six-yard box and UBCO’s Paal was there to steer the ball past Pawlowski in goal.

Vikes’ forward Baart came close to an equalizer when his headed effort bounced off the top of the bar, though this was an improvement for a UVic team that had looked despondent after conceding the opening goal.

UBCO then sat back and absorbed the Vikes attack , with Heat forward Austin Jones oftentimes the only opposition player in the Vikes’ half. Their resolute defending almost paid off, but they were unable to completely shut out a front line that has been lethal so far this season.

The game looked all but over until Hundal, who had impressed for most of the second half, finally had one of his crosses find a head in the penalty area, with Stokes’ header nestling in the bottom corner passed Cuthill.

While the result is less than satisfactory for the Vikes, they will take comfort from the fact that they eked out a point from a game in which they could have easily come away with a loss. They will need to improve their performance, but it seems that their character is exactly where it needs to be.

The next night, the Vikes stormed back with a decisive 4-0 win over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Saturday night in a match they were expected to win handily. The WolfPack entered play on Saturday not having scored a goal and the Vikes were happy to continue that trend.

The Vikes struck three times in the first-half, including another goal from Stokes, and cruised to a fairly uncontested victory against a WolfPack team that was clearly outclassed.

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