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).

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

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

Just Posted

News Bulletin file photo
Wrong set of golf clubs given away outside Nanaimo thrift store

Family spreading word about mistake in hopes clubs might be returned to them

The Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges with garbage bin replacement requests. (Michael Briones photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo faces challenges to meet requests for garbage bin replacements

Waste manager says RDN will have a surplus of 100-litre carts

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a hit-and-run incident outside the 7-Eleven store at University Village Mall Feb. 3. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP speak to people of interest in hit-and-run investigation

Police continuing to investigate Feb. 3 incident in Harewood

(News Bulletin file)
Wellington, Ladysmith secondary schools latest with COVID-19 cases

NDSS and Bayview Elementary also experienced exposures, says SD68

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo motion seeks to ask province for help to combat illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas from the J pod swim in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A new study from federal researchers provides the most detailed look yet at what the Pacific Northwest's endangered orcas eat. Scientists with the NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center spent years collecting fecal samples from the whales as well as scales from the fish they devoured. They say their data reaffirm the central importance of Chinook salmon to the whales. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Study reinforces importance of Chinook to Pacific Northwest orcas

Data confirms how central the big salmon are to the orca’s diet year-round

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read