The University of Victoria Vikes womens soccer team was finally rewarded for its perseverance on Friday at Centennial Stadium.
The Vikes and the Alberta Pandas from Edmonton kicked off the Canada West season with a 1-1 tie.
After a scoreless first half, the Pandas opened the scoring in the 57th minute when Kayla Michaels split the UVic defence and fired a low, bullet of a shot past Vikes goalkeeper Steph Parker.
It looked like the Pandas, ranked No. 5 in the pre-season CIS rankings, would be able to hang on for the win until the Vikes were awarded a corner kick in the 77th minute. That was when Mallory Hackett went into the air and got enough of the ball to direct it into the Alberta net.
I wish that I had a better story but I closed my eyes and jumped for the ball, said Hackett. It went in off my foot. We had so many chances in this game that it was great to finally see one go in.
Hackett had an opportunity to open the scoring in the games second minute but Kelti Biggs made a diving save.
If I put that ball anywhere but where I did, I score, said Hackett. That was devastating, as we probably would have won the game with an early goal.
We made a lot of mistakes so we have lots to work on and make sure that it doesnt happen at the nationals.
The Vikes will be the host team for the CIS championships, Nov. 8-11 at Centennial Stadium.
After Alberta took the lead, Vikes striker Jaclyn Sawicki knocked the ball over the net from close range.
I thought that we rebounded well after the Alberta goal, said UVic coach Tracy David. I thought that we were flat to begin the game but you have to give Alberta a lot of credit for intercepting passes and forcing us to turn the ball over.
In the second half, we finally started to click with our passing game. Overall, I thought that our group showed a lot of composure and maturity, she said.
On Albertas goal, we turned the ball over and they countered and caught us a little flat-footed. She made a great shot for the goal.
The Vikes applied pressure in the early going but were turned away by Biggs, who made some big stops on Hackett and Cassie Dennis.
The Pandas countered with their own attacks but Parker was able to turn aside all six shots but most were not that dangerous.
The Vikes are back in action today at 5 p.m. against the Mount Royal Cougars from Calgary. The Cougars are a new entry in Canada West this year.
n In the mens game, the Vikes opened up defence of their CIS crown with a 3-1 victory over the University of Northern B.C. Timberwolves from Prince George before a raucous crowd of approximately 2,500 fans.
Craig Taylor gave the fans something to cheer about only 90 seconds into the game with a UVic goal. Then at the nine-minute mark, second-year player Craig Gorman tallied after an individual effort. Taylor added his second late in the second half. Daniel Bell countered for UNBC.
One of the busiest players on the field was UNBC goalkeeper Mitch McFarlane, who was peppered with shots all night.
The Timberwolves and Vikes are back at it again tonight at 7:15 p..m.
n The UVic mens basketball team plays its first pre-season game Sunday at McKinnon Gym against the Eastern Washington Eagles from Cheney.
The Eagles have been an NCAA Division 1 school since 1983-84. Game time is 6 p.m.
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