Vikes kick off 2016 season ranked second in Canada West coaches poll
The man who started his university career by winning CIS Championship MVP on home field and finished it by being named CIS Player of the Year has hung up his Vikes jersey for the last time.
After five years, the Cam Hundal era is finally over at UVic—and that makes the upcoming season one to watch for the team that enters 2016 ranked second in the Canada West preseason coaches poll.
Hundal and fellow offensive standouts Craig Gorman and Dominic Colantonio closed out their Vikes careers in 2015, leaving a number of holes to fill for the team that put together five strong seasons with a potent offence at the lead.
The departures represent a chance for a number of new and returning Vikes to step up in a year with a lot of uncertainty. They'll have a chance to make an early impression on Canada West fans when the Vikes 2016 schedule kicks off with a pair of road games this weekend beginning with a game against UBC Okanagan on August 27 at 3:00 p.m.
"We've lost some very important people so we'll definitely be relying on our senior players," said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson, referring to a core that includes fifth-year Vikes Adam Ravenhill, Noah Pawlowski and Sam Prette.
Ravenhill will serve as captain and is expected to set the tone for the team, which features 14 players with one or less years of university experience.
First-year Vikes Jack Hill, Evan Libke and Austin Schneebeli are expected to play key roles in their first year with the team. While Hill and Libke will be entering their first CIS season, Schneebeli brings two years of experience from his time with Thompson Rivers.
All three players have looked good in a strong pre-season for the Vikes—a good sign for the team as they get set for an interesting season.
"It's going to be difficult for any team to make the playoffs," admitted Wilson. "UBC lost a lot of players and we lost some key players, whereas some of the other teams haven't lost so many. I think this year will be one of the most competitive Canada West seasons in recent memory."
For the Vikes, the changing environment means a change in mindset. In 2016, the primary focus will shift from strong offence to shutdown defence.
"We don't have the attacking people that we had, however, defensively we have to start from scratch from the goalkeeper forward and give no goals away," said Wilson. "We have to be very, very clear that in order to make the playoffs—and that is definitely a goal of our team—we cannot give goals away."
Neither can the Vikes give away opportunities to score. If Victoria is to repeat their success from recent year, they're going to need to capitalize on their chances—especially if they may be few and far between.
"Going forward we need some people to step up [on offence]," said Wilson, pointing out fourth year Paulo Dait and second year Isaac Koch specifically. "Koch and Dait are very offensive players and we need them to step up attacking-wise, not necessarily to score goals but to assist on goals."
Victoria gets their season started on a two-game road trip, which will see them play the UBC Okanagan Heat and the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. Saturday's season-opener gets started at 3:00 p.m. at the Nonis Sports Field in Kelowna, B.C., while Sunday's game against UBC Okanagan kicks off at 1:00 p.m at Hillside Stadium.
The Vikes and the Heat were evenly matched last season, as the teams tied both of their games in 2015. The Heat finished the year in fifth place in the Pacific division, missing out on a playoff spot by four points.
After their season-opener against the Heat, the Vikes will then travel to Kamloops to play the WolfPack. It will be a chance for the Vikes to avenge the 4–2 loss that they suffered the last time the teams played.
2016 Canada West Coaches Poll
Team / Points (first-place votes)
- UBC / 162 (12)
- Victoria / 146
- Calgary / 130
- Alberta / 129 (1)
- Fraser Valley / 119
- Saskatchewan / 110
- Trinity Western / 109
- Mount Royal / 102 (1)
- Thompson Rivers / 61
- UBC Okanagan / 57
- Lethbridge / 51
- UNBC / 40
- *Winnipeg / 29
- MacEwan / 29
NOTES: Winnipeg finished ahead of MacEwan by virtue of more higher placed votes.
Teams received 13 points for a first-place vote, 12 for a second-place vote etc.
Vikes Men's Soccer Preview
2015 CW regular season record: 6-3-3, 2nd Pacific
2015 post-season record: 2-3, 2nd Canada West | 7th CIS
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2009 / 16
Last CIS championship / total CIS championships: 2011 / 5
2015 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 28 goals, 4th
Defence: 18 goals against, T4th
2015 CW regular season leaders:
Goals: 8 – Cam Hundal, Midfield
Assists: 5 – Cam Hundal, Midfield
Points: 13 – Cam Hundal, Midfield
Wins: 6 – Noah Pawlowski, Goalkeeper
Shutouts: 3 – Noah Pawlowski, Goalkeeper
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Jack Hill / Midfield / 1 / Victoria, B.C. / Oak Bay Secondary
Evan Libke / Defender / 1 / North Vancouver, B.C. / Handsworth Secondary
Austin Schneebeli / Midfield / 3 / Sicamous, B.C. / Thompson Rivers University