Vancouver Island University Mariners player Victor Blasco looks to pass the ball during a drill at practice Tuesday afternoon at Merle Logan Field. The M’s play their home opener Saturday (Sept. 17).

No stopping soccer scorer

NANAIMO – Victor Blasco returns from professional ranks to re-join Vancouver Island University Mariners.

There are a lot of talented players on the VIU Mariners, but one, in particular, changes the game.

Teams can try to put two guys against Victor Blasco and he’ll still manage to make plays. He’ll score if he’s given any time and space, or even if he isn’t.

That’s what happened in the season opener against the Douglas Royals last Saturday. From 25 yards out, Blasco turned and struck the ball. Before the opposing keeper could even move, the ball was off the crossbar, down and in.

“An unbelievable goal…” said Bill Merriman, VIU coach. “I honestly didn’t know Victor could hit a ball that hard.”

And that’s after the coach has seen a lot of Blasco strikes. The outside midfielder from Barcelona played one season at VIU in 2014, leading the PacWest in goals and helping the Mariners make it all the way to the national final.

After that, Blasco went on to sign with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 pro team and soccer fans in Nanaimo wouldn’t have expected him to come back.

But after he was released by the ’Caps and was considering opportunities with other clubs, he kept in mind that every pro season took away from his university eligibility.

“Knowing the situation in Spain and knowing the [financial] crisis and stuff, my family, we think I need to study,” Blasco said. “It’s better for me because tomorrow, I break my legs, I have nothing, right?”

So he’s decided to take advantage of a scholarship and try to finish his degree at VIU.

“I’m still young,” said the 22-year-old. “Maybe I can go pro, but it’s not in my mind right now.”

College soccer, in the meantime, can still challenge him, though he’s expected to star.

“I think he’s going to be the best player in the PacWest. I’m going out on a limb on that one,” Merriman said, laughing.

Blasco said he can continue to develop his game within the VIU program.

“Of course. You always have something to learn,” he said. “And maybe I have something to share with them, too, you know? So I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to learn and to get better and to move forward.”

Merriman said college soccer is a different mindset for a guy who was so close to an MLS roster, but said at the same time, it’s obvious that Blasco enjoys being back.

“Just having his presence and his energy is great for the players, and you can see the other players starting to, I don’t want to say emulate him, but they’re doing things that they normally wouldn’t do, which is great,” Merriman said.

Blasco was in on all three of the Mariners’ goals on the first weekend of the season, scoring two in a 2-0 win against the Royals and then setting up teammate Shun Takano in a 1-1 tie against the Langara Falcons.

Blasco said the M’s have the right mix of attributes to win, and if they play together as a team and play with desire, they can achieve all their goals.

“Our team [in 2014] wasn’t even close, talent-wise, to this team and we got that far because of our hard work,” he said. “So it’s up to us. We have the same coach, we have a lot of the same players. It depends on how bad we want it.”

GAME ON … The VIU Mariners men’s soccer team plays its home opener Saturday (Sept. 17) against the nationally ranked Capilano Blues at 3:30 p.m. at Merle Logan Field following a 1 p.m. women’s match. Admission is free. The M’s are in action again the next day, with the women taking on the Quest Kermodes at noon prior to the men’s match at 2:30 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo challenges families to Instagram their park explorations

ParkIt challenge set up to offer prizes to cap off days at the park

Nanaimo RCMP want speeding motorists to ‘slow the blazes down’

Police raise alarm after seeing 400-per cent rise in excessive speeding tickets last month

Top central Vancouver Island health official retires

Island Health says Dr. Paul Hasselback’s replacement to be named shortly

17-year-old girl from Nanaimo reported missing

RCMP asking for help finding Trisha Harry

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

World’s biggest Nanaimo bar confirmed, but it’s not in Nanaimo

Two Ontario children set the bar high with successful biggest Nanaimo bar world record attempt

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Most Read