Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA - For the 32nd year in a row, the Keg Spring Cup will return to Centennial Stadium as both the University of Victoria Vikes men's and women's soccer team are set to host some of the top university teams in Western Canada on March 24-25.
The tournament will be the final event of what has been a busy spring season for the Vikes, with both teams playing against competitors from a variety of levels, including trips to both Florida and Arizona.
On their tour through Florida the Vikes women, who finished fifth in the nation and earned Canada West silver medals in the fall, acquitted themselves extremely well against NCAA Division I competition.
After dropping their opening game 2-1 to Florida Atlantic University, the Vikes then drew Florida Gulf Coast University 1-1 and defeated Florida International University 2-1.
Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez scored twice with Georgia Bignold and Dari Coté each tallying once on the tour.
"We had a good year in the fall but we've lost some players, so we are trying to rebound and pick ourselves up from that a little bit," said Vikes head coach Tracy David. "We want to replicate what we did in the first term and continue to move forward, so this tournament will give us a very good feel of what we are up against."
Including the Vikes, all four of the top teams in the Canada West conference from this past fall will be in Victoria this weekend.
Battling for the Keg Cup title alongside the Vikes are the Canada West champion Trinity Western Spartans, the Canada West regular season champion Alberta Pandas and the UBC Thunderbirds, who finished fourth in the conference regular season standings.
In total the four teams earned a combined record of 38-8-10 in regular season play last fall.
"That's what makes this tournament special, we attract great competition, the games are never easy and it also gives all four of the coaches an early glimpse at what next season might look like," said David. "Each team will be different than they were in the fall season, so that will be very interesting to see."
The Vikes women get their tournament underway with a game against the Pandas at 2 p.m. on Saturday, 24. The two teams met once in the fall with the Vikes picking up a 1-0 win on the road in the middle of October.
The other opening round game will see the Thunderbirds play Trinity Western at 10 a.m. on the 24.
The Vikes men have also had a busy spring schedule and earned a record of 2-1 on their spring tour of Arizona. First-year Ian Whibley scored four goals while Isaac Koch, Jack Hill and Kiyoshi Croke each added one apiece in victories of 2-0 over Benedictine University and 6-1 over a local select team.
The Vikes lone loss came against Sporting Arizona, a semi-professional team that plays in the United Premier Soccer League.
"It's been outstanding, I've been very pleased with the attitude and work-rate of our team," said Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson on his team's play this spring. "We've had a chance to play a lot of guys who redshirted in the fall and mix them into our first team. They've done very well and it gives everyone confidence heading into this weekend, which is a major tournament for us."
Joining the Vikes on the men's side of the tournament are UBC, Trinity Western and the Fraser Valley Cascades.
UBC and Trinity Western were the Canada West gold and silver medallists respectively, with the Thunderbirds defeating the Spartans in extra-time of the gold medal game.
The Vikes men begin play at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 against the Cascades and the game offers Wilson another chance to integrate some younger players into his lineup in a competitive setting.
"This year in particular, because we've had senior players leave for various reasons after our fall schedule, the young guys have already been playing a lot and we've found some good results."
In the regular season the Vikes tied Fraser Valley in Victoria before decisively winning the return game in Abbottsford by a score of 3-0.
UBC and Trinity Western will meet earlier in the day in a game scheduled to begin at noon.
Following day one of the competition, the two losing sides will play consolation games at 10 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. respectively, while the two winners will play in the finals later that day. The women's final will take place at 2:00 p.m. and the men's at 4:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, MARCH 24
10:00am (W) UBC vs. TWU
12:00pm (M) UBC vs. TWU
2:00pm (W) UVic vs. Alberta
4:00pm (M) UVic vs. UFV
SUNDAY, MARCH 25
10:00am (W) Consolation
12:00pm (M) Consolation
2:00pm (W) Final
4:00pm (M) Final
All-Time Keg Cup Titles
Canadian U-20: 1
Whitecaps DVT: 1
Vancouver Island Selects: 1
Bridges' 11: 1
Whitecaps DVT: 1