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UVic and Alberta Draw


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Tough week-end for the Golden Bears. Dropped Friday's season home opener to TWU when they probably deserved a better result and today, just when it seemed they had been "gifted" the victory, UVic came back to score in the 89th minute.

Holding onto a lead seems to be a problem. Last week they apparently had a 3-0 and then a 3-1 lead over Calgary only to give up goals in the last minute and time added on to end up tied 3-3.

Today the Bears started off cautiously, playing a 5, 3, 2 formation. Quenton Zalazar would often start off in front of the back four but usually by the time a free kick had been taken he had dropped several steps behind them playing as a sweeper. Despite a lack of size, he had a strong game especially giving up, literally, almost a foot of height to UVic's Carl Speed.

With 5 in the back and the midfield playing defensively there were great gaps between them and the two strikers, John Konye and Brett Bachelu. There was little connection. Most balls were hoofed up the field or into the corners with little likelihood of either being able to catch up to the ball. If they did, for the most part the mid-fielders were too far back to link up or present an option running onto a centre.

On the other hand UVic was trying to play controlled, attractive soccer. Was impressed with their central defender Jagminder Sajan who was strong in the air and on the ground. Left back Chad Kalyk made a number of good runs up the left flank as they tried to open up the game.

Chris Craveiro has a strong first half and had several opportunities. One effort was just tipped over the bar by the Alberta keeper.

UVic dominated the first half but U of A was unlucky in the last minute when a hard free kick from outside the area by Jordon Gillespie was turned away by the UVic keeper and during the ensuing corner which ended the half, a ball clipped the crossbar.

The second half was more of the same with UVic dominating the first few minutes until U of A began to play better. Individual runs especially from Brett Bachelu and Mark Korthuis [who had a much better game today than Friday]provided some opportunities. U of A was perhaps unlucky not to get awarded a penalty for a clumbsy, rather than malicious, tackle by UVic's keeper.

Bachelu in particular made some nice runs and for a change, especially given the first half, the balls were going to feet or at least closer to feet. He had a couple of good opportunities but his first touch betrayed him.

Finally in the 77th minute a ball was played to the feet of Konye deep in the box. He controlled the ball and turned and fed Korthuis who put it away.

However, as they tried to hang onto the win which they did not really deserve given the run of play the Golden Bears got caught on a break and midfiedler Sean Battistoni broke in from the right and slid a ball just inside the far post to tie it up.

Decent afternoon entertainment. Not as chippy as Friday. Lots of chatter. Not sure what it is with west coast sides but they certainly do "chirp". Mind you the Bears got at least one of their 2 or three yellow cards for disputing the penalty "non-call".

If you are a U of A fan the first half was pretty desperate. There were more encouraging signs in the second.

Thank "thunk" you just heard was the Bears falling out of their #1 National Ranking.

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Really descriptive report. I had this season pinned as the Bears but it looks like Canada West may by more wide open than even last year. I think the loss of Neil Morrow and the big Danish lad (forgot his name) in the back is having more of an impact than I thought. Never saw Q Zalazar as a centreback which may speak to lack of depth in that spot. Any word on the Calgary boys : Alex Campos, Danny Nielsen and Erik Kuhn? How did Gillespie do, I rated him as the best player in Canada West last year.

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U of S Huskies pick up their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw with TWU today. Missed the game as my sons were playing pointy ball at more or less the same time. U Vic managed a 4-3 victory over the Huskies on Friday. Again regretfully missed due to work commitments.

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I think the Dane you are thinking of is/was Andreas Rasmussen. I agree, from the few games I managed to get to last year he was a consistent calming influence.

Agree with your observation about Zalazar. Certainly is not your stereotypical central back.

I would have to talk to the coach but I expect that perhaps it had something to do with their 4 -2 loss to Victoria in pre-season. He really played a curious role. He would line up on virtually any dead ball situation where Victoria had possession 4 or 5 yards ahead of the flat back four but inevitably would quickly retreat the same or more depth behind them before the kick was taken. That having been said he was generally effective and it as curious to me that after having seen this happen two or three times that Wilson, the Victoria coach, did not instruct his strikers to follow him back.

I am not sure whether this was a way to deal with the target man, Speed's height, ie. let McElwain contest him in the air and hopefully Zalazar would "mop" up.

Campos came on for Bachelu in the second half and did not look out of place. Competed for the "pony tail" oohs and ahhs with Craveiro from the women Vikes [beat the Pandas 5-0] who were in the stands near me [smile].

I seem to recollect Kuhn more from Friday's game than today. However, must admit that I am relying on memory and the line up handout.

I do not think Nielsen made it onto the field for either game.

Apart from the well saved free kick at almost the half time whistle Gillespie [again I may have some of my comments wrong as it was difficult to differentiate at times between 16 and 18, Korthuis and Gillespie] was essentially MIA in the two games I have seen thus far.

Considerably less touch and movement this year. Much more mindless kick and run and poor control. Lots of balls hit with pace making it impossible for the intended recipient to control or "ambulance balls" at the other end of the scale.

I expect that Canada West is indeed wide open this year. U Vic and TWU must be happy to return to the "wet coast" with a tie and a win after their visit to AB and SK.

U of A has got to hope that things get better

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Zalazar seemed to come on as an attacking midfielder last year, that's why I was surprised he was dropping behind the back four, plus the guy's about 5'7 if I remember.

With the exception of Junior Castrillon, the Bears have essentially the same talent in midfield and up front as last year, that's why I'm surprised they've struggled, though they seem to be leaking goals that they didn't last year. Gillespie dominated in MF last season so if he's off form so far, that would explain things a bit.

Campos is a talent, when he's on he is quick, extremely strong on the ball and tricky out wide and in the area. He has a bit of a rep for disappearing in games but the competition for playing time and short season should help keep him focused.

TWU are my early pick. Vic and Alberta should challenge as well and a dark horse might be Calgary. They've picked up some key points early though they havn't hit the road yet. The downside is that the top Calgary recruits this season are all scattered around Canada West:

the 3 U of A kids, Patrick Kelly at TWU, Jeff Hagen at Vic and Justin Tse in Lethbridge.

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