Red-hot UVic Vikes soccer teams set sights on Thunderbirds

When it comes to the Canada West court or pitch, there is nothing quite as emotionally charged as UVic versus UBC. Especially when it matters in the standings. It does tonight in both men’s and women’s soccer when the University of Victoria Vikes teams cross the strait to meet their UBC counterparts at Thunderbird Stadium.

The Vikes men (4-1-2) and women (6-2-1) are both ranked No. 9 in their respective CIS national top-10 polls. The UBC men (6-0-1) are No. 2 nationally and the women (8-1) are No. 5.

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“It’s one versus two in the conference, so it’s a big weekend,” said Vikes men’s head coach Bruce Wilson.

“We have to win tonight to have any chance to finish first in Canada West. But even if we finish second, we get to host a playoff quarter-final.”

Standing in UVic’s way tonight is UBC standout midfielder Gagan Dosanjh, the former Canada U-17 and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 player, who has had pro stints with Edmonton FC and Energie Cottbus in Germany.

“Dosanjh is an excellent player and we have to contain him,” said Wilson.

The Vikes answer with a well-rounded attack led by the elusively swift Cam Hundal, who is tied for first in Canada West scoring with five goals and two assists and is second in goals.

“UBC is very talented going forward. In that way, they are similar to us. Both teams can definitely score,” said Wilson.

The first meeting between the sides, which was the season opener Sept. 5 and also played at Thunderbird Stadium, ended in a 1-1 draw

In the women’s game tonight, both the Vikes and Thunderbirds head in on six-game winning streaks. What makes UVic’s impressive is that it comes after an uncertain start at 0-2-1.

“We’re a different team than the one which lost to UBC [1-0 at Centennial Stadium last month] in the first game of the season,” said Vikes coach Tracy David.

“We found our rhythm and got better. We’re creating chances now.”

Several of those have been converted, or set up, by veteran Emma Greig. The Tofino product is second in Canada West scoring with three goals and four assists.

Jasmin Dhanda has eight points for UBC and scored the winner for UBC in the first meeting of the season.

“Dhanda is lethal and we have to watch her. Also, we have to make the most of our opportunities,” said David.

“It’s an exciting matchup because there’s a lot at stake.”

Field hockey this weekend also features the UVic-UBC rivalry, with the Thunderbirds (2-2) hosting the Vikes (4-0).

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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