Ali Baggott, University of Victoria
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team used home field advantage to find their first win of the season, 4-3, over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Sept. 7 at Centennial Stadium. The Annual ThunderFest night saw over 3,600 fans cheering from start to finish in an end-to-end thriller that puts the Vikes up to a 1-2-1 Canada West record, while the Heat drop to 1-2-2.
The Vikes earned two goals from Matteo Ventura both on set pieces, while Ian Whibley and Sylvain Taghaoussi each got on the board for their first goal of the season. Jas Lally logged three saves in goal for the Vikes, as the home side out-shot the Heat 15-13.
“We went after Matteo big time out of high school and he can hit a ball,” said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson on the first year striker. “You saw on the penalty shot he smacked it in and then the free kick before that he bent it around the wall and that is really what he’s good at.”
For the Heat, three different scorers got on the board including Luke Warkentin, Nikhil Reddy and Hamish Walde. Nicholas Reitsma was key for the Heat making five saves in goal.
The Vikes went up in the 7th minute after some hustle from Xavier Araujo kept the ball in play deep in UBC Okanagan’s end. Araujo paced a pass back to Will Adams whose bending cross found the head of Whibley. Centennial Stadium erupted to celebrate Whibley’s finish and the Vikes’ first home goal for 2018.
Almost right after the kick off following Whibley’s goal, the Heat were in the Vikes’ end to find an equalizer. First-year UBC Okanagan forward sent a cutting pass up the middle that was handled well by third year Warkentin. The Surrey native bodied out his Vikes check and buried the ball low with his left foot to quickly level the game 1-1.
The Heat almost gained the go-ahead goal in the 21st minute when Christian Taylor blasted a long-range shot that forced Vikes keeper Lally to fully sprawl and tip the ball just over the cross bar. Just before half Mark Kaiser cut the ball to his right and drilled the ball from over 20 yards out but Reitsma was up to the task.
In the second half the Vikes poured on the pressure but an errant tackle in the box in the 77thminute allowed UBC Okanagan the chance they needed to go ahead. Third-year Heat midfielder Reddy put one bottom corner on Lally from the penalty kick spot to pull ahead.
The Vikes rallied back just five minutes later as Whibley was pulled down in the other end. Ventura was back in the hot seat for his third goal of the season and second of the game as the calmly delivered a 3-2 lead for the Vikes.
Moments later the Vikes delivered as Mark Kaiser’s corner kick was headed in by Taghaoussi for a 4-2 lead. UBC Okanagan did get on the board with a late free kick from Walde, who buried a low shot past Lally from just outside the box.
Two free kicks, two penalty kicks and end-to-end action entertained a crowd of over 3,600 fans as the Vikes earned their first win, 4-3, in memorable fashion.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere almost like a professional game,” added Wilson. “The crowd was fantastic and our marketing and events people deserve a lot of credit. The bottom line is it was a great atmosphere and a great result.”
The Vikes will finish their home weekend hosting Thompson Rivers WolfPack at 7:15 p.m. at Centennial Stadium, while the Heat will return to the mainland to play UBC. Both games will be webcast live on pay-per-view at canadawest.tv.
1st 2nd: F
VIC 1 3 : 4
UBCO 1 2 : 3
VIC: #7 Matteo Ventura
UBCO: #20 Luke Warkentin