The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team had a difficult 2016 season, missing out on a playoff spot for the first time in ten years.
Gone were Cam Hundal, Dominic Colantonio and Craig Gorman, three players that led the Vikes to the national championship tournament just one year ago. It wasn’t just players that were no longer on the roster that hindered the Vikes though, the team also struggled mightily with the injury bug throughout the year, rarely getting to play the same starting 11 more than once.
The struggles of this season may all be worth it in the end though, multiple young players on the Vikes stepped up and not only got their feet under them in the highly competitive Pacific Division of Canada West soccer but also played well enough to keep the Vikes in the playoff hunt right until the last weekend of the season.
Those playoff hopes would eventually be dashed despite the best efforts of the Vikes. Issac Koch returned from injury to score three goals in a thrilling victory over the visiting Thompson Rivers WolfPack. Unfortunately the second tie-breaker in Canada West soccer is goal differential in head to head competition between the tied teams. With TRU picking up a 4-0 victory over Victoria earlier in the year, the WolfPack won that tie-breaker 5-3.
The difficulty of the season was evident right from the very beginning, with the Vikes dropping both games on their season-opening road trip to the Interior.
A last second goal in Kelowna was the only marker of the game as the Vikes lost to the UBCO Heat. The offensive struggles of the Vikes continued into the next game as they were shutout 4-0 by the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
A victory over the Fraser Valley Cascades in front of a boisterous Days of Thunder crowd was the highlight of the early portion of the season. Paulo Dait and Sameer Grewal both scored as the Vikes elevated their play to the delight of the over 3,000 people packing the stands at Centennial Stadium.
Mixed results, two wins and two losses, in their next four games appeared to have the Vikes back on track for a playoff spot but then came a difficult month for the team.
From September 25-October 16 the Vikes played six games and were able to pick up just one point. While they did manage to rebound and record two wins in their final three games, it was a case of too little too late for their playoff hopes.
The future is promising for the Vikes as the team will lose just three players due to graduation.
Fifth-year Vike and team Captain Adam Ravenhill was a steadying presence at the back all season, while Noah Pawlowski made some truly incredible saves to keep the Vikes in games. Sam Prette had his final season derailed due to injury but the midfielder from Victoria, B.C. played a big role on Vikes teams throughout his five years with the program.
Canada West Record: 5-10-1 (6th, Pacific)
Canada West Final Four: DNQ
Last CIS title: 2011
Last Canada West title: 2009