UVic Vikes soccer teams hit the road for playoffs

It’s that beep, beep, beep truck backing up sound that the University of Victoria Vikes women’s soccer team doesn’t want to hear.

They are guaranteed a berth into the U Sports national championship tournament Nov. 7-10 at Centennial Stadium as hosts.

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“We don’t want to go in the back door. We want to get to nationals of our own accord,” said Vikes head coach Tracy David.

The chance to do that begins today when UVic (8-3-3) opens the Canada West playoffs with the play-in game against the University of Regina Cougars (6-2-6) at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton.

The winner will advance to meet the MacEwan Griffins on Sunday in a quarter-final matchup at Clarke Stadium. The winner of that advances to the conference semifinals next weekend at a site to be determined.

“The playoffs are a new game. That’s when you really feel the pressure is on,” said David.

It’s on in reality for the Cougars today and Griffins on Sunday. The Vikes know they will live again, at nationals, even with a loss in the conference playoffs. But then again, the Vikes don’t want to hear that backing-in beep.

“We have to be ready and we feel we are, despite all our many injuries,” said David.

“But we know it’s not going to be easy and that the Cougars really fight and are a scrappy team with speed that plays with intensity.”

The regular season game between UVic and Regina ended in a 1-1 draw on a late own-goal by the Vikes.

A tight game could come down to crease play, where UVic has the reliable fifth-year veteran Puck Louewes.

“Puck has been outstanding for us this season, as she has in her career,” said David.

Defender and fifth-year Nanaimo-product Rachel Baird of the Vikes was named a Canada West second-team all-star, while UVic forward Nikki Virk out of Surrey was named to the conference all-rookie team.

Meanwhile, the UVic Vikes men’s soccer squad (8-6-1) returns to the Canada West post-season for the first time in three years and opens with a quarter-final game Saturday in Saskatoon against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (7-3-4). The winner advances to the conference semifinals next weekend at a venue to be determined.

Bruce Wilson’s Vikes will rely on the dynamism of undersized but flash-quick midfielder Isaac Koch, who was named a Canada West first-team all-star for his conference-best eight assists and 17 points. The fourth-year Kelowna product also tied for second in the conference with nine goals.

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