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.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Nanaimo council grants development permit for 170 apartments near Long Lake

Concerns raised over traffic around Rutherford Road

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

RCMP investigating suspicious fire at Nanaimo apartment building

Early morning fire ignited under balcony at building on Glen Eagle Crescent

House fire displaces family of five in Nanaimo

Dog and cat still unaccounted for following house fire on East Wellington Road on Monday

POLL: How often do you see motorists throw cigarette butts out the window?

How often do you see motorists throw lit cigarette butts out the… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. First Nation plans to launch legal challenge after Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says he’ll continue to defend the B.C. coast

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

BREAKING: Forest fire on North Island disrupts Hwy. 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Most Read