Vikes soccer teams look to get offence going at home

With four games added to the regular-season schedule this year, bringing the total to 16, there is more time and opportunity to correct course.

Yet, there is still a sense of urgency building.

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“Everyone on our team realizes we are in a tough situation and we need to get points,” said Wilson.

The first chance comes tonight at 7:15 against a team that has had the opposite start. The Fraser Valley Cascades are 2-0.

There should be a lively atmosphere with the annual home-opener student Thunderfest promotion, which has in the past attracted up to 3,000 fans to Centennial Stadium.

The Vikes are still looking to solve the issue of having lost to graduation Cam Hundal and Craig Gorman, two of the most prolific offensive threats in Vikes soccer history.

“It will be interesting to see what we do to score goals this season,” said Wilson, heading into the 2016 campaign.

He’s still looking for that answer.

UVic has yet to score this season in surprising 1-0 and 4-0 road losses to lower-regarded UBC-Okanagan and Thompson Rivers University squads. Missing two penalty kicks in Kamloops against Thompson Rivers didn’t help. On defence, neither did giving up the winning goal at the death in Kelowna against UBC-O.

Wilson lamented the early-season absence of injured forward Isaac Koch, whose speed makes things happen on the pitch.

“We’re missing three starters to injury [Koch, Keevan Webb and Sam Prette] and that hurts us quite a bit,” said Wilson.

“That means first-year people have to start and learn the league very quickly.”

That includes true freshman Jack Hill, a Grade 12 graduate out of Oak Bay High, who will be inserted into the Vikes back line this weekend.

The Vikes conclude their weekend home opening set with a game Saturday night at Centennial Stadium against the Trinity Western Spartans, who are off to a 4-0 start to earn a No. 8 ranking in the national CIS top-10 poll. Fraser Valley received an honourable mention.

“Trinity Western and Fraser Valley are two very strong teams with veteran players who have been around awhile, while we lost five to graduation,” noted Wilson.

In Canada West women’s soccer, the Vikes’ gutsy scoreless opening draw last weekend against the defending national champion UBC Thunderbirds has earned UVic a spot in the CIS national ranking at No. 10. The result dropped UBC from top-ranked in the country to No. 2 this week behind Laval from Quebec.

While there’s a definite Valley vibe to the men’s weekend, it’s an all-Alberta matchup for the women as they meet the MacEwan Griffins from Edmonton tonight and the Mount Royal Cougars from Calgary on Saturday. Both games begin at 5 p.m. at Centennial Stadium. These are the season openers for both the Griffins and Cougars.

Tonight will be the first-ever meeting in women’s soccer between UVic and MacEwan, which entered Canada West in 2012.

The Vikes will again be looking to ride the strong back-end play of Samantha Lee, Katie Carrothers, Lindsay Machin and goalkeeper Meaghan Storie, who together held the potent UBC attack at bay last weekend.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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