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Post secondary soccer teams get boost from Yukoners

Whitehorse's Jacqueline Harrison is having a fantastic season on the soccer pitch. The 22-year-old midfielder has played a key role in the success the University of Victoria Vikes are experiencing.

Whitehorse’s Jacqueline Harrison is having a fantastic season on the soccer pitch.

The 22-year-old midfielder has played a key role in the success the University of Victoria Vikes are experiencing.

The Vikes finished the regular season second in the Canada West conference with a 9-2-1 record.

Harrison, who is one of seven Yukon players at the post-secondary level this season, has scored six goals in 14 matches so far this season.

Among the six goals are four game-winners, which puts her in a tie for the most of any player in the conference.

Harrison scored to give the Vikes a win and the second-place spot in front of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Friday. The next day the Vikes lost 1-0 to first-place’s Trinity Western Spartans.

The balancing act of being a star athlete and a full-time student is not an easy one, said the fourth-year player.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” said Harrison. “You have to be great at time management. It’s not just like going to university and having spare time to do homework. You really have to schedule your life around soccer.

“It’s nice playing at the University of Victoria because you get to play outdoors all year long, which is a lot different than in the Yukon.”

The post season is guaranteed to be an exciting one for the Vikes. The University of Victoria is hosting the 2012 CIS Women’s Soccer Championship in two weeks, which gives the Vikes a guaranteed spot.

The Vikes will now attempt to get a more favourable draw at nationals by performing well at the Canada West Championships over the next two weekends. The Vikes are playing the Fraser Valley Cascades in the quarterfinal on Saturday.

“We have a free bye, but we’ve improved greatly and are aiming this weekend and the following weekend to get a better berth in nationals,” said Harrison.

“We just have to keep battling, keep focused. It all comes down to a few games at nationals. Regardless of how we did before, we just have to make sure our heads are on right and keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Last season the Vikes finished fourth in Canada West, but only the top two teams advance to the nationals.

“We were in a rebuilding last year and we were really happy with how we ended up,” said Harrison. “Obviously, we wanted to go to nationals.”

In Harrison’s first year on the Vikes in 2009, the team won Canada West and placed fourth at nationals.

Harrison is not the only Yukoner leading a team.

Whitehorse’s Matthew Thomson just finished the season as captain of the Lethbridge Community College Kodiaks.

“Matt is a phenomenal leader,” said Kodiaks head coach Joe Mauro. “He’s one of my hardest working guys. I couldn’t ask for a better guy leading the team.”

The Kodiaks just missed the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoffs, finishing with a 3-7-0 record.

“The record doesn’t indicate how good a team we were,” said Mauro. “We missed our opportunities.”

The team had a handful of one-goal losses, he added.

Thomson, who is in his third year of studies, played striker/midfield for the Kodiaks.

It was a disappointing end to the season for the University of Calgary Dinos.

The team, which includes Whitehorse’s Katherine Lowey, missed the Canada West playoffs by one spot after suffering three one-goal losses to end the season.

It went down to the final regular season match for the 3-6-3 Dinos, who lost 2-1 to the Regina Cougars on Sunday.

Dinos head coach Matthew Shepherd only had positive things to say about his defender Lowey.

“Katherine is a very reliable left back,” said Shepherd. “She’s very good with the left foot. She likes to take the ball up.

“She’s a very dependable defender.”

Last season, which was Lowey’s first on the Dinos, the team finished sixth in Canada West.

The Grant MacEwin University Griffins had a pair of Yukoners manning the midfield this season.

Whitehorse’s Kurtis Hills and David Ratcliff played for the Griffins, who didn’t reach the playoffs, ending the season with a 3-6-1 record.

Last year the Griffins reached the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championship final.

Whitehorse’s Avery Enzenauer played defence for her second year on the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves (5-5-0). The Wolves did not make the playoffs.

Harrison is not the only Yukoner to be on a team in the playoffs, nor the only one on the Vikes.

Whitehorse’s Dillon Vickerman is a first-year player on the men’s team at the University of Victoria. The team finished the regular season with a 5-5-2 record and will begin the Canada West Championships on Nov. 1.

In addition to playing for the Vikes, Harrison played for the Victoria Highlanders FC in the semi-pro W-League over the summer.

“We didn’t do that great,” said Harrison. “We improved from last season, but since the WPS folded last season, a lot of the other teams received a lot of professional players.

“It was only our second year in the league, so we don’t have funding to bring in international players.”

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