The Mid Isle Highlanders showed their scoring punch as spring soccer got started.
Mid Isle FC earned a 4-4 tie after a late flurry of goals in Saturday’s Pacific Coast Soccer League season opener against the Victoria Highlanders at Merle Logan Field.
“Spring soccer will be a lot like this. There’ll be a lot of tempo,” said Bill Merriman, Mid Isle coach. “There’s a lot of young players that have that energy. You’re going to see some high-scoring games. I think it’s very entertaining.”
The complexion of Saturday’s game turned when Renan Rebelatto subbed in late. He created chances for himself and teammates and tied the score 3-3 after booting home a rebound off the crossbar. Victoria went back ahead about 30 seconds later, but Nanaimo stayed on the attack and Russell Lederer scored on a scramble after a free kick.
Nick Moore and Yilmaz Tuncel had scored Mid Isle’s earlier goals.
Merriman said his players showed character to earn themselves a tie late in the game.
“That carries you through later in the league, even into playoffs,” he said. “If you can believe that you can do that kind of thing, then it’s only going to help the rest of the way.”
He said he expects his team to be tighter defensively moving forward. In Saturday’s battle of the Highlanders, Mid Isle left too many holes for Vic to attack.
“If we can sort out our back line and we get that in order – normally that is our strong point – I think we’ll do well,” Merriman said.
They’ll have to build chemistry on the fly. Mid Isle FC’s U21 team only just got eliminated from B.C. Soccer’s provincial championships the week before, and many of those players now find themselves with a slate of new teammates.
“Today there were guys out there actually introducing themselves to each other,” Merriman said.
With the U21 guys, plus Nanaimo United and Cowichan FC players, the Mid Isle Highlanders will have to figure out where guys fit on the pitch.
“Some players play better coming off the bench, some players play better starting,” Merriman said. “And who plays well with who?”
The Highlanders men play their next home game May 24 at 4:30 p.m. against Penticton at Ladysmith. Next action in Nanaimo is June 7 versus West Van FC.
Mid Isle women win via shutout
Mid Isle FC’s premier women’s side started their season with a 4-0 shutout over Kamloops in the Interior on Saturday. Taylor Miller, Jodi Hutton, Brianna Powrie and Kalsey Martin scored the goals.
The Highlanders ladies play their home opener June 8 against Fraser Valley at 2 p.m. at Merle Logan Field.