Ali Baggott, University of Victoria
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team earned their first points of the season following a 1-1 draw on the road against the UNBC Timberwolves on Sept. 4. The first of two games to be made up following unplayable conditions Aug. 24-25 from British Columbia wildfire saw the Vikes earn a penalty kick goal from first year Matteo Ventura. The Vikes are now 0-1-2 in the Canada West.
Playing for the first time on the newly renovated Masich Place Stadium pitch, the Timberwolves came out flying early on, taking a one-nil lead in the sixth minute on a goal by Owen Stewart. Veteran Matt Jubinville sprung the second-year Prince George native, who made no mistake beating Vikes keeper Jas Lally.
Victoria settled down following the early marker, and managed to slow the Timberwolves attack. In the 22nd minute, a Vike was taken down in the box, leading to a penalty kick opportunity for Ventura. The Victoria native made the most of the chance, scoring his first career goal past a sprawling Rob Goodey.
Chances were hard to come by the rest of the half, with the 500 in attendance trying to will the home side to a victory. In the second half, UNBC tried to please that crowd, applying pressure and creating a number of dangerous chances in the Victoria end.
“We are working on keeping it tight in the back,” said fifth-year Vikes captain Mackenzie Rigg. “You don’t lose games where you don’t let in goals. That’s what we came out to do in the second half. We wanted to defend their press and then look to move forward.”
The Vikes, however, had a bend-not-break attitude, and refused to allow a Timberwolves go-ahead goal. When the official blew the final whistle, the shots on goal were 11-5 in favour of the Timberwolves, but fourth-year Vikes netminder Lally did enough to preserve the draw.
“UNBC was here to fight, there is no doubt,” added Rigg. “It was a great game but we showed character and showed we could play a full 90. We got a point. Looking ahead, this where we build from.”
With the tie, the Vikes move to 0-2-1, while the Timberwolves start the campaign at 0-0-1.
“This is the start of some momentum,” added Rigg on looking ahead. “We have to use this and build off this. It is a long season, we have thirteen games left, including two this weekend. We are going to continue to build together as a team.”
“Part of playing in U SPORTS is about being adaptable. You can’t always predict the conditions, and you have to adapt and make due. It was a great night to play. This is a lot of games in a week, but we are fit and we will just keep going.”
It’s a quick turnover for the Vikes who return home to host UBC Okanagan on Sept. 7 in the annual ThunderFest game home opener as well as Thompson Rivers on Sept. 8. Both games will be webcast live at canadawest.TV.