VIU earns berth to nationals

The VIU Mariners didn’t win provincial gold, but they’ve still got a shot at a national championship.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s soccer team finished second at the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships in Squamish on the weekend, ending with a 3-0 loss on Sunday to the favoured Douglas Royals.

Since the Royals had already secured a host berth at Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association nationals, the Mariners knew going into Sunday's gold-medal match that they were bound for nationas.

"I think it was mixed emotions for some of the players coming off a high, knowing that they were going to nationals, and others were still competing very hard to win a provincial championship," said Bill Merriman, VIU coach.

He said his team played well on Sunday, but far from its best game and he said players would be first to admit that.

VIU felt it played much better in Saturday's semifinal match, which it won by a 4-0 score over the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. The coach said his team showed good emotion leading up to start of the game and carried that onto the pitch.

"If we play like that against any of the other teams [at nationals], we're going to compete very well and we have a good chance to even win nationals," said Merriman.

Jordan de Graaf was man of the match in both games for VIU. Drissa Bouare, Stephen Ewashko, Blaze Roberts and de Graaf scored in Saturday’s win and goalkeeper Robbie Cochrane posted the shutout. Ben Leggett was a standout in Sunday's match and Dan Cato was named the tournament's top defender.

Even though the M's are coming off a loss, they're still in a favourable position, and they're still playing.

"The players were obviously a little devastated after losing, but now they'll see where we're headed and what we have to do," said the coach.

GAME ON … The national championships will be held starting Nov. 7 in Coquitlam.

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