Sports

Nanaimo United slays Gorge FC

Nanaimo United players Jamie Arbanas, left, and Chris Merriman squeeze out Gorge FC opponent Leighton Lepine during Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 play Sunday afternoon at Merle Logan Field. United won 2-1, sweeping both its weekend games. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo United players Jamie Arbanas, left, and Chris Merriman squeeze out Gorge FC opponent Leighton Lepine during Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 play Sunday afternoon at Merle Logan Field. United won 2-1, sweeping both its weekend games.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo United set its goals high right from the start of the season, and now, those goals appear well within reach.

United (6-6-2) won twice in a three-day span on the weekend and has now won four out of its last five in the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s Div. 1.

Nanaimo shut out Lakehill 5-0 on Friday in Victoria, then returned home Sunday to defeat Gorge FC 2-1 at Merle Logan Field.

Two games in one weekend is a rarity in the VISL, but United rose to the challenge.

“It was a test, especially playing a weaker team like Lakehill and then coming and playing a stronger team,” said Scott Newlands, United veteran. “I think we played well as a team and put a solid game together. Everyone had a part in it.”

Jared Stephens and Thomas Anderson scored the goals Sunday. It was Nanaimo’s first win against Gorge since September 2008.

“It’s been a long time coming for Nanaimo to beat Gorge,” said Scott Davison, coach of United’s Div. 1 men. “Definitely some pride involved there.”

He said his team's passing game gave it the edge against the  visitors from Victoria. As Davison put subs on the pitch, he reminded them to keep the ball along the turf.

"It was to stop us from going to the air game, to settle it back down onto the ground and play a very ground-oriented passing game," said the coach. "And it was tic-tac-toe through them."

United now sits in fifth place and could challenge for a top-four placing in the table, and could also be a dangerous team in cup playdowns.

Davison said an influx of Vancouver Island University Mariners players bring talent, experience and fitness and allow United to experiment with some different tactics. Everyone is ready to go, he said, and looking forward to the remainder of the season.

"We've set lofty goals and we'll try to reel them in here at this point through some dedication and hard work," Davison said.

“We’ve been working really hard,” added Newlands. “Practices, everyone’s showing up, putting in 110. Hard work, that’s what Nanaimo United’s all about.”

GAME ON … United hosts Prospect Lake on Saturday (Jan. 21) at 7 p.m. at Merle Logan Field … To see another action photo from Sunday's game, please pick up Tuesday's print issue of the News Bulletin.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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