The VIU Mariners played their best of game of the year in the provincial final and became PacWest champions.
Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team defeated the Douglas Royals 1-0 on Saturday in Burnaby to win the B.C. title. The Mariners women advance to compete at national championships.
“We’ve got a veteran team that was really focused and determined to become the PacWest champions,” said Anup Kang, the team’s coach.
The winning goal came relatively early, with Maddy Dawson heading in a cross from Lexi Fawcett in the 29th minute. About 10 minutes after that, goalkeeper Emily Rowbotham made a diving save to keep the ball out of the top corner and from there, the M’s ladies buckled down and limited the opposition.
“That’s the best game we’ve played all year …” Kang said. “The one thing that we’ve asked the girls is to stay consistent for the full 90 minutes and I thought we did a really, really good job of that.”
The Royals were the PacWest’s No. 1 seed and had defeated the Mariners in last year’s final.
“To get another one this year after a heart-breaking loss last year to Douglas, it was really, really nice,” Kang said. “Anytime you win a championship it’s special in its own way.”
Rachel Jones, team captain, is a VIU veteran but had missed provincials the last two seasons due to injury and then suspension.
“So it was special to win it for the first years and the second years that didn’t get to win it last year, and for me personally, and for the fifth years to go out with a provincial championship is just an awesome way to end it,” Jones said.
The Mariners qualified for the final the day before with a dramatic 2-1 win against the Langara Falcons. Langara got on the scoreboard first in the 52nd minute, but Jones tied the game a minute later, getting in behind the opposing defence. The contest stayed 1-1 until the 87th minute, when Dawson’s cross got to Jones, who had fallen down but was still able to kick the ball in.
“When [the goalkeeper] fell, she took me down with her, but I wasn’t not going to score,” Jones said. “So I just kind of crawled any way I could to get to the ball before the defender did.”
Jones was selected as tournament MVP and Rowbotham was chosen as an all-star.
The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships will be hosted by Collège Ahuntsic at the Montreal Soccer Stadium starting Nov. 9. The Mariners expect to have a favourable draw as one of the top three seeds.
“Any game at nationals is a tough game, but I think if we stay focused like we did in the final yesterday, I think we’ll have a really good chance at getting some positive results at nationals,” Kang said.
Mariners men lose twice in penalty shootouts
In other VIU soccer news, the Mariners men placed fourth at the PacWest championships in Burnaby. VIU lost its opener 3-2 in a match that went to penalty kicks, and lost the next day’s bronze-medal match against Quest 1-0, also in penalty kicks. In both those matches, the Mariners were in situations where they were kicking for the win.
Shun Takano scored both his team’s goals at the tournament and goalkeeper David Turkstra was selected as an all-star.