Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – It took everything they could muster but eventually the UVic Vikes women's soccer team were able to solve the puzzle that is a stingy MacEwan Griffins defence to pick up a 1-0 win on Sept. 30 at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, B.C.
Third-year Vike Caitlin Millham scored the lone goal of the game after a nice pass from Kiara Kilbey in the 53rd minute of play. Puck Louwes recorded two saves for her fourth-straight shutout in net for the Vikes, while Emily Burns was the player of the game for the Griffins, making 12 saves in the game.
The win is the fifth in a row for a Vikes team that now holds a record of 7-1-1 on the season and are currently locked in a neck and neck race with the UBC T-Birds for top spot in the Canada West conference.
The Griffins meanwhile are heading in the opposite direction. After starting the season with four straight wins and earning their first national ranking in program history, MacEwan has dropped four straight contests and sit fifth in the Pacific Division.
The Vikes enjoyed a majority of both the possession and the scoring chances in the game as they launched attack after attack into the MacEwan side of the field. The Griffins held firm through much of the game however, playing a strong road game of allowing the Vikes possession but denying them many quality looks on goal.
"We still need to work on our pass into the final third," said Vikes head coach Tracy David. "We get ourselves into good positions but we aren't deadly enough around the goal, that's something we have to work on."
After failing to break down the Griffins defence in the first half despite forcing Burns to make seven saves in the opening frame, the breakthrough for the Vikes finally came in the 53rd minute.
A Vikes counter-attack was worked over to Kilbey who played the ball to Millham and the midfielder made no mistake when finding herself with a little bit of space in the 18-yard box. Millham looped a ball over the top of Burns with her left foot and into the back of the net.
"I thought coming into today that the game was going to be all about transition play and that came to fruition," said David. "We caught them in transition, counter-attacked after a long throw-in to score our goal. We were fortunate to be able to do that."
MacEwan looked the most threatening during the waning moments of the match. Suekiana Choucair and Brittany Costa were able to put shots towards goal when the Griffins were in desperation mode but the visitors were unable to salvage a point.
With the shutout streak now at four games for the Vikes the one thing that is clear is that it is taking an entire team effort to keep the ball out of the back of their own net.
"Everybody is defending and it starts from the players up-front, that's where we want to press and win the ball higher up the field and in order to do that everybody has to work and everybody has to play a role," said David. "If we can get the players doing that it makes it a little bit easier on the back four."
Up next for the Vikes is a rare Thursday night game for the team as they travel to UBC to do battle for the top spot in the conference with the UBC T-Birds.
"We go to UBC next week and we already know that they are deadly, so for us to come away with a successful result against them we are going to have to do some work this week for sure," said David.
The Griffins will return to Edmonton looking to put an end to their losing streak when they play a pair of games against the UNBC Timberwolves on Oct. 7 (2 p.m., Clareview Community Rec Centre) and Oct. 8 (Noon, Jasper Place Bowl).
Both of those games can be watched live on canadawest.tv