Nanaimo United rising in VISL's Div. 1

Nanaimo United has had the kind of start that makes players excited about how the season could end.

The city’s Div. 1 Vancouver Island Soccer League men’s team (7-3-1) knocked off another perennial powerhouse last Friday, beating Sooke Celtic 3-1 at the Log in Victoria.

“This is our best start since I’ve been with the club…” said Andrew Adams, team captain. “It gives you that confidence to go on and win that game when maybe you’re having doubts. Now we know. We can score against any team here, we can get that winning goal.”

Adams was Nanaimo’s only scorer against Sooke, as the home team knocked a couple into its own goal. United has had some lucky bounces this year, said the captain, but the team has also made its own luck with a young, fast group that keeps opponents on their heels.

New coach John Valentim has a passion that excites United players, Adams said.

“It’s been a really solid season,” said Scott Newlands, United defender. “We’ve had lots of positive outcomes, we’ve had positive games, the group’s real positive.”

Injuries and depth have been concerns over the first half of the season, but now that college soccer is finished, some Vancouver Island University players are joining United and helping out in that area.

In some years Nanaimo has struggled to win games before the VIU cavalry comes, but this year United has already positioned itself as a contender.

The winning mindset goes back to last season, said Adams, when United felt it could have gone further in the Jackson Cup playdowns.

“We all made a promise that we’re going to really push and try and win a trophy within the next few years,” he said. “It would be amazing for the town and for our club. We deserve it.”

GAME ON … United plays the Prospect Lake Lakers (2-9) on the road Saturday (Nov. 24). Next home action for Nanaimo isn’t until Dec. 8, when it takes on Gorge FC in a 7 p.m. match at Beban Park’s Merle Logan Field.

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