The University of Saskatchewan men’s soccer team has earned a spot in the Canada West final four after defeating the University of Victoria Vikes 2-0 in the Canada West quarter-finals.
The win advances the Huskies past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014 when they captured the program’s first and only Canada West championship.
Tobias Hyrich-Krueger scored both Huskie goals on the frozen turf at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon to seal the win. It was only Hyrich-Krueger’s second game back from an injury that caused him to miss 11 games — nearly two entire months away from the action.
Head coach Bryce Chapman was pleased to see Hyrich-Krueger become a playoff hero after having to deal with frustrating injuries that had kept him off the field.
“We can actually take it back to last year, [he] lost about four or five games last year as well,” said Chapman. “And then he got injured this year. Again, just bad luck. He took a bad one in the head earlier on in the season.”
“He’s a fourth-year, he’s got a lot of experience. He’s got some qualities that really can put some fear in the opposition. Another good story for that kid,” said Chapman.
Hyrich-Krueger struggled to put his emotions into words following his breakthrough performance.
“What we’ve been through as a team, having a tougher start this season then finding our feet and going on a run,” said Hyrich-Krueger. “Coming into this game — possibly the last game for three of our fifth years — I honestly can’t describe it. It’s just like a dream.”
Until Sept. 22, the Huskies had only earned one victory in the first eight matches of the year. They conceded four ties and three losses during that span. Since then, the team has won seven games in a row.
“This is a resilient team. They have learned how to grind out wins,” said Chapman. “It’s not always pretty, but you can still find that w.”
The Huskies’ two leading scorers each have a modest three goals this season, which is well out of the top 10 scorers in the conference. Chapman credits the collective team play as the catalyst for their success in recent weeks.
“I think we’ve had 14 different goal scorers out of 21 goals scored [this year],” said Chapman. “And that says a lot of just who we are as a group. When you rely on one person, it becomes difficult.”
The Huskies will now travel to the University of British Columbia to take on the Thunderbirds on Nov. 1.
UBC finished the year as the top-scoring team in the conference while surrendering the second-fewest goals. They will be an unfamiliar opponent for Saskatchewan as these teams did not play each other during the regular season.
The Huskies will play for the bronze or gold medal, pending the result of the Nov. 1 game against the Thunderbirds.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Photo: Supplied by GetMyPhoto.ca/ Huskie Athletics