Cameron Doherty, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – Three goals in a 15-minute span late in the second half led the University of Victoria Vikes women's soccer team to a 4-0 victory over the host Saskatchewan Huskies on the grass of Field 7 inside Nutrien Park on Oct. 14.
"Yesterday was a heck of a game for us and the same with the first half today, unfortunately we didn't capitalize when we created chances and then after the first goal we were just fatigued and deflated," said Huskies head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton. "That's what happens when you play back-to-back games against strong, experienced teams, you have to find ways to make it count when you have the momentum and that is part of our learning curve."
Already holding a 1-0 lead, the Vikes' offence exploded late in the game, allowing them to register three quick goals. With two of those coming from Rachel Baird in the 76th and 78th minutes of play before Eryn Libert-Scott rounded out the scoring in the 90th minute.
"Credit to Saskatchewan because they are tough. They are well-organized and press well in numbers so they are always looking to throw off your rhythm and they are good at it," said Vikes head coach Tracy David. "It's starting to come offensively for us, we are starting to find our flow a little bit and today was a good team performance overall for us."
Georgia Bignold tallied the other goal for the Vikes, while Puck Louwes made four saves for the shutout. Hope Pelk had another strong game in net for the Huskies, recording six saves in the loss.
The Huskies will now enter the final weekend of their regular season schedule with a record of 2-6-4 and with their playoff fate in their hands. They currently hold a three-point lead on both Regina and Lethbridge for fifth place in the Prairie Division with two of those three teams making it into the post-season.
Victoria meanwhile, sits in fourth in the Pacific Division with a record of 6-5-1.
The goals may all have gone the way of the Vikes, but it was the Huskies who looked the more dangerous of the two teams early in the game.
Just six minutes into the action, first-year midfielder Haley Mercier unleashed a blast on goal that Louwes did well to tip over the bar.
Momentum swung wildly back and forth between the two teams in the first half and Pelk made a pair of excellent saves to keep the Vikes off the scoreboard when she recorded diving stops off a Rachel Baird effort in the 13th and again on a blast from Brea Christie in the 27th minute.
The teams entered the halftime break tied 0-0, with the shots on goal 3-2 in favour of the visitors.
The breakthrough moment came just seven minutes into the second frame.
Victoria was able to catch Saskatchewan pressing up the field and Kiara Kilbey played a ball through to Bignold on a quick counter-attack. Bignold was able to outpace the defence and calmly deposit the ball past a helpless Pelk.
Saskatchewan rebounded well from the disappointment of surrendering the first goal and had the next good chance on net, but Louwes was able to fend off a long-range effort from Jackson Wiegers in the 71st minute.
From then on out the game was all Victoria as Baird tallied from a scramble in front of the net and then added her second goal of the game just two minutes later on a powerful header from a corner kick.
Libert-Scott added some extra insurance in the final minute of play, but by that time the game was already well and truly settled.
"At home we always want to get points but this is a learning curve for our young group," said Barandica-Hamilton. "In the short term there is some disappointment because we didn't get the points, but in the long term there are a lot of positives and things that we can build off.
We performed unbelievably well against strong teams in three of the four halves we played this weekend."
Next up for the Huskies is a trip to Manitoba where they will play the Bisons on Oct. 19 at 5 p.m. before facing the Winnipeg Wesmen on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
The Vikes will return to Victoria and host the Fraser Valley Cascades on Oct. 19 and the Trinity Western Spartans on Oct. 20.