Like the ancient Vikings of the past, the University of Victoria Vikes have a certain reputation for being a tough team that raids the opponent's nets. The University of Calgary Dinos field hokcey teamchanged all of that with a 2-1 victory over them on Saturday.
"We really played well and took it to them," said Dinos head coach Jenn Swagar.
The Dinos attacked early in the game, with a goal by Kaitlyn Longworth in the 19th minute.
The Vikes equaled the score just before halftime with Sumeet Aujila hitting a low, hard shot into the Dinos net. With just three minutes left, Dino Michelle Roydhouse broke the tie on a short corner attempt, when the ball bounced into a wide open net.
Despite aggressive Vikes attacks in the last minutes, the Dinos goalie, Stephanie Petrowitsch-- who played with an injured shoulder-- shut them out.
Petrowitsch credited her team's improvement to the new cohesion and training her coach and assistants provided.
"The win against the Vikes on Saturday was a great way to end the season and an even better thing to build on for the next season," said Petrowitsch.
The defeat denied the Vikes the Canada West conference championship title, which went to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
It was a different story on Sunday as the Vikes recovered enough to plunder the Dinos by shutting them out 2-0 while the Dinos fell victim to their old habit of caving under pressure. Two Dinos, Laural Kuntz and Kaely Barrie, were named Canada West all stars after the game, along with Victoria's Ali Lee, Katie Tittler and Perri Espeseth.
Stinging from the loss, the Vikes changed their positioning and game strategy for Sunday's game, scoring first two minutes after the opening whistle.
Their second came at the 21st minute, when Whitney Siegmann backhanded the ball into the goal. Through the game, Vikes goalie Kaitlyn Williams shut the Dinos out while the Dinos were pressured by the Vikes and gave the ball away on offensive break outs.
Vikes co-captain Ali Lee admitted the Dinos were able to spoil the Vikes shot at winning two games, so Sunday was about playing how they wanted to play at the nationals and to make up for their docile play on Saturday.
"Scoring in the opening minutes was crucial to setting the tempo of the game and we did that," she said. "Scoring two goals early in the first half was a great start. We maintained composure in our backfield, despite one of our defender's [Perri Espeseth] face being hit off an aerial attempt by the Dinos' Carolina Romeo."
Romeo explained the face hit was an accident, as she was focused on the ball between doing an aerial and a low drag and didn't see Perri coming.
Despite the loss and losing out on a place in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship playoffs, the Dinos have improved their record to 2-8-2 since 2003, a statistic Swagar is enthusiastic about.
"I am proud of the girls this season, they have learned a lot and are getting better each game," she said.
Petrowitsch and Romeo reflected on the season and the Dinos performance. Petrowitsch pointed out how she was able to improve her goalkeeper skills and communication skills with her defenders and teammates despite a recent shoulder reconstruction operation.
For Romeo, her first Dinos season was an exciting and eventful experience. She learned a lot about teamwork, even if she didn't achieve her season goal-- making it to CIS nationals. Both Romeo and Petrowitsch agreed that the focus of the season was communication and team cohesion.
"We need to learn to become more consistent throughout the games and season, but we have become a great team off the field this year," said Romeo. "We will definitely be a competitive team in Canada West next year, for sure."