Vikes soccer teams hope to weather Alberta storm

It might be a little wet, which is to be expected on the West Coast, when the University of Victoria Vikes (1-2) take on respective Alberta visitors Calgary Dinos (1-1) and Lethbridge Pronghorns (0-2) in Canada West women’s soccer today and Saturday, with both games at 5 p.m. at Centennial Stadium.

But across the Rockies it could be another story altogether as a freak late-summer snowstorm might greet the UVic Vikes men’s team in Edmonton for Canada West games Saturday and Sunday against Alberta Golden Bears and MacEwan Griffins, respectively. The games would have been difficult for the Vikes (1-2-2), regardless of the weather, with the Golden Bears 5-0 and Griffins 3-2.

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As former Canadian national team captain, Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson has seem some surreal road situations in places such as Central America. Even at that, he says, this season takes the weather cake. The unusual conditions in Edmonton follow having two Canada West games postponed this season against the UNBC Timberwolves due to the wildfires haze that blanketed Prince George.

“It’s been an odd experience this season, for sure,” said Wilson.

“One for the books. The weather will be an issue this weekend in Edmonton, as were the conditions earlier in Prince George.”

But no odder than what has happened to the Vikes off the pitch, with three starters going down before the season even began, including standout attacker Isaac Koch. Other potential starters were lost for academic reasons, said Wilson.

“It’s been a learning year for this group with a lot of young players being forced to play, when in a normal season, we would have broken them in slowly,” said Wilson.

A bright spot has been the immediate emergence of freshman Matteo Ventura, the prize recruit out of Reynolds Secondary who has three goals as the Vikes have responded to horrendous 7-1 and 4-0 losses to start the season against Trinity Western and Fraser Valley with ties against UNBC and Thompson Rivers and a 4-3 victory over UBC-Okanagan.

“We are very young and we need to keep the goals against down. But this experience will be good for this group as we move ahead with them,” said Wilson.

The women’s UVic squad, meanwhile, looks to continue finding its footing following 1-0 and 3-1 losses to UBC and Trinity Western to start the season. The Vikes, finally flashing the form that placed them in the U Sports national top five last season, defeated the Fraser Valley Cascades 5-1 in their last outing.

“I was happy with how we responded last week and we will build on that performance,” said Vikes coach Tracy David.

“We need to continue to be aggressive this weekend and first to the ball.”

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