Vikes pull away from Cascades in second half

Rookie midfielder Mackenzie Toop had a solid performance for the Cascades on Saturday. (Photos courtesy UVic Vikes / APShutter.com)

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team had a forgettable night on the road on Saturday, dropping a 7-0 decision to the Victoria Vikes.

The Vikes (9-1-4) came in on a mission – a win would assure them the No. 2 seed in the Pacific Division, with attendant benefits including a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage for the Canada West quarter-finals. Anything less than a win, and their fate was out of their hands.

The Cascades (4-6-4), meanwhile, were already locked into fifth place in the Pacific Division, and with nothing on the line, veteran standouts Brittney Zacharuk and Amanda Carruthers were rested on Saturday.

The Vikes raced out to a 2-0 lead over the first 10 minutes of play on goals by Emily Lieuwen and Rachel Baird, and Kiara Kilbey, Stephanie Badilla Gutierrez, Natalie Cavallin and Victoria Wulff (2) rounded out the scoring in the second half. UVic keeper Puck Louwes recorded her conference-best ninth shutout.

While the end result didn’t impact their seeding, the performance wasn’t what Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht was looking for.

“It’s been a season with lots of ups and downs,” he said. “These lessons we’re learning, I’m hoping they’ll pay off down the road.

“I’m optimistic that when we’re firing and we’ve got all the horses going, we’re a tough team to play against.”

Avneet Bhullar controls the ball against pressure from a pair of UVic opponents.

The Vikes opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Badilla Gutierrez whipped in a cross and Lieuwen rose higher than any defender to get her head on the ball and power it past UFV keeper Emily Harold.

Three minutes later, Baird was on the receiving end of some beautiful passing by the Vikes attackers. While her first shot was blocked by Taylor Nekic, Baird stuck with the play and deposited the ball into the net.

The Cascades had their best run of play throughout the rest of the first half as they fought hard to keep the Vikes off the scoreboard while mustering a few chances themselves, thanks mostly to the creativity in attack shown by first-year midfielder Harneet Dadrao.

Any chance of a UFV comeback was thoroughly snuffed out in a ten-minute span in the second half, which saw the Vikes score four goals.

The Cascades open the playoffs this coming Thursday, taking on the fourth-place team from the Prairie Division (to be determined) at Trinity Western University in Langley. The winner advances to play the host Spartans in a quarter-final contest on Saturday.

– With files from Cameron Doherty, Victoria Vikes

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