Nanaimo United set itself up this fall so that it can have a strong finish to soccer season.
The Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 men’s side (7-4-2) sits in fourth place at the holiday break.
Lucian Serban, the team’s coach, said the four losses mean United likely won’t be able to achieve a goal of finishing at the top of the standings, but can still achieve playoff aspirations. United’s Div. 1 men are defending champions of the VISL’s highest division and the coach said the team set its goals high at the start of the 2017-18 season.
“It’s very refreshing to see that change of attitude and we’ll definitely challenge for the Jackson Cup again…” Serban said. “We’re still having fun, we’re having lots of good energy at practices and games.”
The coach said the team had a slow start, dropping a few points early, and that’s showing up in the standings now, as it’s a tight race – the division’s second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place clubs are separated by just four points.
United has been able to win matches and at the same time build the club in other ways – Serban said developing better depth has been a focus, and said the team is always working to hone its game.
“We’re trying some new tactics, some new strategies, we just need to polish them to get them functional in high-pressure games,” the coach said.
In the meantime, United is scoring enough goals while maintaining one of the league’s stingiest defences.
“Despite the fact we’re playing a very offensive, very attacking style, we have a good defence, good defenders…” Serban said. “Our defensive line, they’ve played together for a few years now and they’re very well organized.”
United won’t have a lengthy break – they’ll be one of the first sides to hit the pitch again in the new year, with a match scheduled for New Year’s Day in Nanaimo.
GAME ON … Nanaimo United hosts Westcastle United on Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. at Merle Logan Field.