With a chance to clinch second place in the Pacific Division, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team built a first-half lead on the road against the Victoria Vikes on Friday evening.
But the Vikes came storming back after the break, scoring three times in a 15-minute span to claim a 3-1 victory.
The result enabled UVic (5-3-3, 18 points) to leapfrog the Cascades (5-4-2, 17 points) for second place in the Pacific, and the Vikes control their destiny with one regular-season game to go for each. UFV visits the undefeated UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday (7 p.m. start, webcast at canadawest.tv), while Victoria hosts the Trinity Western Spartans.
Fifth-year captain Colton O’Neill put the Cascades in front in the 27th minute, after the ball deflected up and off the hand of Vikes defender Keevan Webb for a UFV penalty. O’Neill stepped to the spot and made no mistake, driving the ball off the post and past Vikes keeper Noah Pawlowski for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
In the second half, the Vikes needed only five minutes to reverse their fortunes. After a three-way passing play in the middle of the field, UVic’s Cam Hundal found the ball on the left side of the box facing a one-on-one with a Cascades defender. Hundal took the shot and put it far post for his sixth goal of the season to even the score 1-1.
In the 55th minute, the Vikes took advantage on a corner that was nodded in by defender Michael Baart – his first goal of the season in his second start. The Vikes extended their lead through Baart again in the 60th, this time on the break after Hundal slipped a ball through to the middle of the box.
“We did well in the first half – we defended as a unit, we had the PK, and we looked strong defensively,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed. “In the second half, I think nerves crept in. I think we knew what was on the line.
“We went into our shell and had a bad 15 minutes, and we were punished for it. Give a good attacking team like UVic chances, and they’re going to score goals.
“Even at 3-1, we had a period of 20 or 25 minutes where we dominated the game. Maybe if one of those goes in, it’s a different game.”
The Cascades will need a result against CIS co-No. 1 UBC on Saturday, and some help from Trinity Western against UVic, in order to secure the No. 2 seed in the Pacific – and the home playoff game that comes with that distinction.
“It’s out of our hands,” Lowndes noted. “In a way, we can play with a bit of freedom. We can go out, enjoy the game and work hard . . . and where we’ll fall is where we’ll fall.”
– with files from Victoria Vikes communications