Isaac Koch scored a second-half hat trick to lead the UVic Vikes to a 3-1 win over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on October 21 at Centennial Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Vikes the win was not enough for them to continue their chase to make it into the playoffs. Even if the Vikes record a win in their final game of the season, 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 win that tie-breaker 5-3.
“I’m proud of the way the team came out in the second half and I’m proud of the result as well, we deserved that result,” said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson.
The game was a tale of two halves. TRU is pushing to try and make their first ever Canada West post season appearance and they played like a team going for the win to start the game.
The WolfPack dominated possession, racking up 11 corner kicks to the Vikes 0 in the half.
Only the great play of Noah Pawlowski in the Vikes net kept the teams even through the first 30 minutes as he made multiple point blank stops.
The pressure finally paid off for Thompson Rivers in the 37th minute of play when Yuya Nakano opened the scoring. Nakano showed off some fancy footwork before cutting through the Vikes defence and firing the ball into the net off the far post.
The Vikes looked like an entirely different team when they came back onto the field for the second half. They began to play with a sense of urgency that put the WolfPack back on their heels.
“We came out in the second half and even though the conditions weren’t ideal for either team, we dominated the half,” said Wilson.
Isaac Koch scored his first goal of the night when a loose ball fell to him ten yards outside the 18-yard box. Koch let go a shot that rocketed perfectly into the top right corner.
Koch, who has missed most of the season due to injury, doubled his tally in the 74th minute. The second-year Vike again gathered up a loose ball outside of the 18-yard box and struck an even sweeter shot than his earlier effort to give the Vikes the lead.
The product of West Kelowna wasn’t done yet. Koch capped off his wonderful night with a third goal on a great individual effort. He weathered a hard shoulder to shoulder challenge from a WolfPack defender and then put on a burst of speed to break in all alone on Claye Harsany in net for the WolfPack. Koch calmly slid the ball into the net to score his third goal of the game and his fifth of the season.
“It feels good, it’s taken us a while to put everything together but tonight we finally got it. It feels good to put some goals in the net because we haven’t been doing that a lot this season,” said Koch.
The Vikes pushed hard to score the two goals that they needed to even up the goal differential but just couldn’t find their way past the WolfPack defence in the final minutes of the game.
The WolfPack remain in the playoff hunt, they will now travel to Vancouver to take on the UBC Thunderbirds on October 22 where a win would see them safely into the playoffs.
The Vikes will play the other team battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division when they take on the UBCO Heat at Centennial Stadium on October 22.
While the Vikes may be out of the playoff race the team knows that a positive result can go a long way as they look forward to next season.
“Momentum is big for sure, this is all going to carry forward to next year,” said Koch.
Victoria (5-9-1) 0 3 3
TRU (6-8-1) 1 0 1
UVIC: Isaac Koch
TRU: Yuya Nakano