The Victoia Vikes men’s soccer team took care of business in front of over 3,000 fans, beating the Fraser Valley Cascades 2-1 September 9 at Centennial Stadium.
For the past seven seasons the first weekend of school has culminated in ThunderFest, an event that concludes with the men’s soccer team playing a game Friday night.
“It’s fantastic the way this game is put on. The place was packed, it’s wonderful and the players really appreciate it,” said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson.
The Vikes opened the scoring due, in part, to a little good luck.
Midfielder Paulo Dait was carrying the ball down the right wing when he sent a floating ball into the box. The play looked harmless until Fraser Valley goalkeeper Alex Skrzeta came off his line, misjudged the ball and ended up directing the ball into the back of his own net.
“Paulo is a very valuable player for us. He’s now in his fourth year, he’s improved every year and he’s the kind of player that can make things happen,” said Wilson
Fraser Valley came out for the second half looking like a completely different team.
They created two good scoring chances in the first five minutes of the second half, only the strong play of fifth-year goalkeeper Noah Pawlowski kept the Vikes in the lead.
Just five minutes later the Cascades had two more chances to score, both of them coming from set pieces. A corner kick found it’s way onto the head of Justin Sekhon who was wide open at the back post. His effort on net was steered just wide by the Vikes defender manning the post.
UFV created another chance on the ensuing corner kick, a goalmouth scramble was only solved when Pawlowski fought through the traffic in front of him and dove on the ball.
The momentum was titled heavily in UFV’s favour and when the Cascades finally scored it felt like it was inevitable. Elijah Sampson played a perfect ball into the path of Justin Sekhon, and Sekhon made no mistake tucking the ball into the far corner of Pawlowski’s net.
The goal seemed to jolt the Vikes awake.
They steadily took back control of the game and their offensive pressure paid off in the 82nd minute when Dait got around his defender and crossed the ball low and hard. Lunging to get on the other end of it was Sameer Grewal, who did just enough to direct the ball into the net.
Fraser Valley wasn’t willing to admit defeat though. Fifth-year midfielder Connor MacMillan let go a thunderous strike that Pawlowski had to use all of his 6 foot 3 inch frame to stop with just seconds left on the clock.
“Noah is an experienced ‘keeper and today he made a save that saved us the game, full credit to him because without that save we would not have got the three points,” said Wilson.
SCORING 1 2 FINAL
Victoria (1-2-0) 1 1 2
Fraser Valley (2-1-0) 0 1 1
UVIC: Evan Libke
Fraser Valley: Elijah Sampson