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UVic women’s soccer squad set for semifinal

They are one win away from a berth to the U Sports national championship, a position some outsiders felt the UVic Vikes women’s soccer team would never be in at the Canada West regular season’s end. But that’s why they play games.

 

They are one win away from a berth to the U Sports national championship, a position some outsiders felt the UVic Vikes women’s soccer team would never be in at the Canada West regular season’s end.

But that’s why they play games. And the next one — today at 2:30 p.m. in Langley against the MacEwan Griffins of Edmonton — is the biggest one of the season for the upstart young Vikes, who have always had a belief in themselves and huge believer in head coach Tracy David.

Depending on the outcome of this Canada West semifinal match, the Vikes will then play Saturday as Trinity Western and UBC do battle later today in the second semi. Today’s two winners advance to nationals at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Nov. 9-12.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve overachieved. I think this group has had it in them for a while and I think you’re seeing it come to fruition,” David said. “We’ve added a few pieces to it and I think it’s great that we’re in this position. We’ve worked hard for it.”

The standings dictated that as the Vikes rolled off an impressive 9-1-4 record for 31 points, equal to Trinity Western’s point total.

The Vikes allowed the fewest goals in the conference at just six. In 16 total games, they posted 11 shutouts — a remarkable ratio.

“That speaks to our strength as a team. We all defend and we defend with numbers, for each other and with each other,” said David. “But it also speaks to our back four and Puck [Louwes], our goalkeeper. There’s good chemistry there.”

The back four include Elise Butler, Katie Carrothers, second-year Kennedy Martin and freshman Brea Christie. Louwes, a third-year, six-foot-one product out of Reynolds, has been outstanding.

Butler, Louwes and Emily Lieuwen were named Canada West first-team all-stars on Thursday and Kiara Kilbey and Stephanie Badilla Guitterez were named second-team all-stars. Christie was named a rookie all-star.

“[Louwes has] got all the tools — the height, she’s pretty mobile and she’s worked hard as well behind [graduated ’keeper] Meaghan Storie for the last couple of years, so she’s learned from her as well,” David said.

With six all-stars (tied for the most in the conference along with Calgary), David is still keeping an even keel heading into this key matchup.

“It’s a playoff game and strange things happen in playoff games. That’s why we play the game that we do, because it’s so unpredictable,” she said.

“What people think should happen, lots of times doesn’t happen. Theoretically, we are the higher seed, but MacEwan has knocked off some pretty big teams to get here.”

The Griffins were 8-5-1 this season for 25 points, but knocked off the University of Alberta Pandas last week. The Vikes downed MacEwan 1-0 at Centennial Stadium this season.

“We have to be firing on all fronts,” David said. “My desire and hope is we come out and have a very good game on the day, and if we can get our players thinking that way, I think good things can happen.

“We just have to score some goals and make sure we’re solid at the back, that’s a priority for us,” she stressed.

“It’s exciting. We just have to believe we can do it, belief is a big part of this. Let’s have that and see what happens.”

The Vikes are also comfortable playing at Trinity Western, the host of the Canada West Final 4.

“We’ve played there so many times, it’s like playing at home,” David said. “It’s not like we’ve played there once or twice, and it’s grass, so we’re comfortable there.”

CORNER KICKS: Third-year Vike Isaac Koch was named a Canada West men’s first team all-star on Thursday. Koch led the Vikes with four goals on the season while also adding three assists in 15 games played. He fired a conference-leading 49 shots toward goal during the season.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

Twitter/tc_vicsports