Hundal, Vikes chase another national soccer title

ON THE PITCH

• TODAY
Quarter-finals

McMaster vs. UQAM, 11 a.m.
Victoria vs. New Brunswick, 1:30 p.m.
Toronto vs. UBC, 4 p.m.
Cape Breton vs. York, 7 p.m.
* All games at York Stadium in Toronto

 

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The symmetry couldn’t be more fitting.

Cam Hundal began his University of Victoria soccer career by being named the 2011 CIS top rookie and also MVP of that year’s national championship tournament as the Vikes won it all on their home field at Centennial Stadium.

Hundal closes out his UVic career as the 2015 CIS MVP, becoming the first Vikes player to win the Joe Johnson Memorial Trophy. The crafty and quick midfielder/striker was announced as the CIS player of the year Wednesday night at the awards banquet in Toronto ahead of today’s national championship quarter-finals at York University.

“It’s the perfect bookend,” said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson, from Toronto.

“This shows what a great player Cam has been for five years.”

Wilson also cited fellow fifth-year UVic striker Craig Gorman, who came out of St. Michaels University School to join Terrace-product Hundal as the dynamic and explosive offensive rookie tandem that carried the host Vikes to the 2011 national title.

UVic had not been back to the CIS national championships until this season.

“This is a great way for them to end their careers,” said Wilson.

It has been a reflective time.

“We [Hundal and Gorman] came into the program together, not knowing each other, but our on-field relationship grew and we got to know each other’s tendencies so well,” said Hundal, at the start of the Vikes’ playoff run.

“That helps in creating chances and gives an advantage against defences. No way does it feel like five years have gone by.”

With Hundal scoring a conference regular-season third-leading eight goals and second-leading 13 points, UVic finished second in the Pacific Division of Canada West at 6-3-3 before a 5-0 conference quarter-final victory against Mount Royal and tense 2-1 semifinal win over Trinity Western. The 2-1 overtime loss in the conference final to UBC last weekend was largely irrelevant because the top two Canada West squads were guaranteed berths in the CIS national tournament.

The Canada West runner-up Vikes are seeded No. 7 for the CIS tournament and meet the Atlantic Conference-champion and second-seed New Brunswick Varsity Reds today in the quarter-finals. Canada West-champion UBC is seeded No. 4 and will meet the fifth-seed Toronto Varsity Blues today in the quarters.

“It’s not too cold, but they are expecting wind and rain in Toronto and it could get ugly,” said Wilson.

“The field is only 68 yards wide and has football lines all over it, so it could get treacherous. It is also artificial turf, while we play best on grass, like our home surface at Centennial Stadium. This is definitely not our surface. We have to play well and can’t make mistakes.”

Wilson has studied tape of UNB’s run to the Atlantic title.

“They like to build up their attack from the back. So we have to stay compact. It’s going to be a real battle amid the elements.”

Wilson is after his fourth national championship in his 28 years on the UVic bench, hoping to add to the CIS titles his Vikes won in 1996, 2004 and 2011.

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