Nanaimo United has been training hard, and what they really need now is to just get out on the pitch and play.
The city’s Div. 1 men’s Vancouver Island Soccer League team begins its regular season Saturday (Sept. 7) with a home game against the Prospect Lake Lakers.
The team, coached again by John Valentim, is excited to get started. Midfielder Daragh Fitzgerald said the guys trained hard all off-season and he thinks work ethic is one of the side’s best attributes.
“We’ve got a lot of energy in the team,” he said. “Which we had at times last year, but people kind of came and went throughout the season.”
United thinks it will have a solid core right from the start. Matt Mehrassa joins the midfield, Paddy Greig and Scott Newlands anchor the defence and striker Alex Escobar looks as though he’ll be a scoring threat.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re overly good from set pieces; it was never our strong suit,” Fitzgerald said. “But just playing ball, we’ve got some very good strikers; we’ve got some very good wingers.”
Defence will come down to a team effort, he said, and fitness and concentration.
“If we can keep things tight for 90 minutes instead of 75 then we’ll be a lot better off.”
The squad was right in the thick of things in the top half of the standings last year and expects to be able to contend again in the VISL’s top tier.
“There’s no reason why Nanaimo shouldn’t be winning this league,” Fitzgerald said. “[We’ve] got the players, we’ve got a great field here, we’ve got great coaching.”
GAME ON … United and Prospect Lake play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Merle Logan Field following a 5 p.m. match between the Div. 2 sides. Admission is free.