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Vikings raid UNBC field

It's a tough job being a soccer goalie in the CIS Canada West Conference. So much net to cover, so many ways for opponents to score. Ty Venhola handled that assignment like an old pro Sunday afternoon at North Cariboo Field.

It's a tough job being a soccer goalie in the CIS Canada West Conference.

So much net to cover, so many ways for opponents to score.

Ty Venhola handled that assignment like an old pro Sunday afternoon at North Cariboo Field. The third-year goalie rushed out of his crease to keep the University of Victoria Vikings from getting shots away, fearlessly sacrificed his body with goal-saving dives and even had to suck up the strength-sapping pain of taking a teammate's clearing shot square in the gut.

The third-year UNBC Timberwolves goalie's backstopping heroics and a timely goal at the other end of the field from striker Cheona Edzerza were almost enough for UNBC to leave the field with an upset victory.

"Prince George scored first and they made it very difficult for us, and basically if they'd scored a second goal the game was over," said Vikings head coach Bruce Wilson.

But UVic's luck changed for the better in the second half when Venhola was forced to leave the game with a thumb injury. The visitors scored twice on relief goalie Mitch Mcfarlane to defeat UNBC 2-1, which came on the heels of a 1-0 victory over T-wolves on Saturday.

Venhola, a human resources major from Abbotsford, was the reason it was a close game Saturday and he certainly earned his pay in the rematch. His teammates used that as incentive to play one of their better games of the season. Helped out by the stellar play of midfielder turned defenceman Josh McAvoy and support from the likes of Gordon Hall, Conrad Rowlands and Francessco Bartollio, who kept the ball out of the danger zone most of the game, the Vikings were unable to muster a goal until the 56th minute, when Cameron Stokes headed in a crossing feed from Dominic Colantonio beyond Macfarlane's reach.

Three minutes later, Macfarlane was forced to trip Vikings midfielder Cam Hundal, who had snuck through enemy lines all on his own with the ball. Craig Gorman took the penalty shot and found the net for the gamewinner. Neither goal was the fault of Macfarlane, who played well coming into the game cold with seven minutes gone in the second half.

"I felt we played well as a team and it was a tough loss," said Venhola. "UVic has a good experienced team and they came back well. This was a team we could have beaten and I thought we proved that and it's unfortunate to lose this one. We're disappointed to not get a point."

A calf injury forced McAvoy to leave the game in the second half but until then he proven extremely effective shutting down Hundal, one of the top scorers in the conference. McAvoy took a sure goal away from Hundal in the first half on a rebound and booted the ball that nailed Venhola in the gut. It took the 'keeper a minute to catch his breath but he stayed in the game.

Edzerza's goal came 15 minutes into the game when he was left uncovered from 30 yards out. After surviving a brief flurry late in the first half, UNBC had several chances to punch through a second goal but couldn't beat 32-year-old goalie Noah Pawlowski.

The win left Victoria with a 5-1 record, while UNBC dropped to 1-7.

"The outcome is not what we want but I'm very proud of the guys the way they battled from the opening whistle, there was lots of great stuff today," said UNBC coach Alan Alderson. "Today we worked hard and got lots of chances. In every game we've grown and gotten better, which is what you want from a young group of players. Ty made some crunching saves today and it was unfortunate he sprained his wrist because he was playing fantastic."

Tarnvir Bhandal scored the only goal of the game in Victoria's shutout win Saturday.

With four games now left in the season, UNBC hosts the Trinity Western University Spartans this Saturday and Sunday.

In the women's game earlier Sunday at North Cariboo Field, Jaclyn Sawicki scored once to complete a five-point weekend as the Vikings rolled to a 6-1 win over UNBC. Emma Greig and and Caitlyn Milham each connected for a pair of goals and Teresa Anania also scored for the visitors.

Sawicki a former national team player wand five year-year CIS veteran midfielder, stands just five-foot-two but makes up for her lack of stature with speed and a deadly accurate shot. The 21-year-old from Coquitlam scored two goals and added two assists in Saturday's 5-0 win over UNBC.

UNBC used a three-midfielder formation in the middle of the field Sunday after using just two in the middle in Saturday's game and that change in strategy proved effective against the Vikings in the early stages.

"For the first 20 minutes we had a hard time with UNBC and it took us a while to get our flow and find space, but we just stayed patient and w were able to get our flow back and popped some goals in," said Sawicki. "Our strikers are fast and we're good at taking advantage of people's mistakes or bad touches. You have to punish them when they do that."

Victoria scored three goals on goalie Jordan Hall, who was replaced for the second half by Kat Hartwig. Sidney Roy scored for UNBC early in the second half, using her speed to catch up to a pass from Tianna Pius.

"It was a tough game but we played a lot better today and were able to keep the ball more and distribute it and we were able to attack better," said UNBC forward Sydney Hall, who played midfield in Sunday's game.

"They're a nationally-ranked team and we knew we had our work cut out for us. Our program is still really young but we're going to keep growing and hopefully we'll get better."

The win improved UVic's record to 5-0-1 atop the Pacific Division, while UNBC dropped to 0-6-2.