It will be a year of unknowns for the 2015 University of Victoria Vikes women’s soccer squad who lost five fifth-year players from last season and return only six players in fourth or fifth year. Head coach Tracy David, who enters her 14th season, is confident about the possibilities with this year’s group which includes 11 new additions. The Vikes women host the CIS ranked UBC Thunderbirds this weekend, Sept. 5, in a single-header home opener match up at 5:00 p.m. at Centennial Stadium.
Fifth-year striker Emma Greig will be expected to lead the charge up front and this year the Social Sciences major will have some help beside her. First-year Vike Kiara Kilbey has impressed coach David so far and is expected to compliment Greig well up front.
“I think Emma is one of the best strikers in the CIS and for sure other teams will be focusing on her,” said David. “She hasn’t had someone to play alongside her and help her consistently so the help from Kiara will alleviate some pressure and provide us a lot of creativity up front.”
Kilbey, a local product from Stelly’s Secondary, has proven in pre-season her speed in attack, compatibility with Greig as well as her ability to score goals. Additionally, the Vikes benefit from Nanaimo District Secondary graduate Rachel Baird, a midfielder who also had a good pre-season.
“Rachel is so composed on the ball for someone of her age,” describes David. “She wasn’t phased in both of our pre-season games and against Seattle Pacific she was easily the best player on the pitch from both sides.”
Outside of Greig, the Vikes women will be looking to several other returnees to guide the young team to a return to the CIS Championship, hosted this year in Vancouver at UBC. In the backfield fourth-year Vike Lindsay Machin will lock down the middle of the field, while Elise Butler, Samantha Lee,Katie Carrothers and Olivia Swinton will fill out the defensive unit.
“We are definitely a new team,” said David about what opponents can expect this year. “We are different and no one can really predict how we will be. We are without Sawicki, Branion-Calles, Dennis, and a big group of experienced players so we still need to figure out who we are.”
With a large group of graduates vacating the midfield line David expects sisters Megan and Shannon Elder to play a big part in re-stabilizing that part of the pitch, while Emily Lieuwen and Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez will also rotate through.
“Your midfield line is the engine in every squad and until that engine gets built we won’t know how powerful we are,” recited David, whose team will have to do the work to get their job done. “We know this year will be about out-working our opponents. We will have a blue collar work ethic. That’s what teams can expect.”
Despite inexperience in some pockets on the field, the Vikes will enjoy the return and strength of fourth-year keeper Meaghan Storie, who will be backed by rookie Puck Louwes.
The Vikes women begin their Canada West campaign with a home opener against the UBC Thunderbirds at Centennial Stadium on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast live oncanadawest.TV. Ticket information is available at govikesgo.com/tickets.
2015-16 Canada West Season Preview
2014-15 CW Regular Season Record: 8-1-3 (2nd, Pacific)
2014-15 CW Playoff Record: 0-1 (Lose in QFs)
2014-15 CIS Record: DNQ
Last CW Title/Total CW Titles: 2008 / 3
Last CIS Title/Total CIS Titles: 2005 / 1
Number of new players: 11
Recruits: Tandia Termuende (M/1), Carly Cody (D/1), Natalie Cavallinn (M/1), Taylor Espedido (D/1),Alynn Dagg (M/1), Rachel Baird (M/1), Ashley Wilder (M/1), Puck Louwes (GK/1), Kiara Kilbey (F/1),London Coronica (D/1), Alexandra Glass (D/1)
Number of departing players: 5
Losses: Carlita Branion-Calles (D/5), Cassie Dennis (M/5), Maryse Reichgeld (M/5), Mallory Hackett(M/5), Jaclyn Sawicki (M/5)
Key returnees: Emma Greig (F/5), Lindsay Machin (D/4), Meaghan Storie (GK/4), Elise Butler (D/3),Shannon Elder (M/5)