The VIU Mariners lost by the slimmest of margins in the most thrilling of finals.
Vancouver Island University’s men’s soccer team earned silver medals this past weekend at the Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association championships in Oakville, Ont., after losing to the host Sheridan Bruins in penalty kicks at the end of a 4-4 gold-medal match Saturday.
Bill Merriman, Mariners coach, said the next day that his players are “content” with silver.
“They didn’t make a lot of mistakes, they couldn’t change what happened and they played probably one of the best finals you’re ever going to see,” he said.
The M’s are perennial contenders and the Bruins were built to be national-calibre, and with a championship on the line, the two teams went toe-to-toe.
“They were a very good team,” Merriman said. “Our plan [was] to get at them quickly on the counterattack because we knew they were an offensively minded team.”
The score was 2-2 at half, and Sheridan almost had the game won before VIU converted a penalty kick in the fourth minute of injury time. The Bruins went ahead in extra time, and again VIU tied it late. Even with the momentum swings and the huge stakes, the Mariners managed to stick to their game plan.
“I say play to win, but also play not to lose,” Merriman said. “So that you’re doing the safe things, but you’re still going at the team because if you sit back, you’re just bringing trouble on yourself.”
Come the penalty shootout, both teams scored on their first five chances before the Bruins prevailed and took the championship.
The Mariners coach was proud of how his guys always believed they were in the game, no matter the situation.
“They worked and were able to come back and fight for whatever they could,” Merriman said. “I think it’s kind of embedded now into VIU, which is really nice.”
He said his team reached its peak level at nationals and the players felt that.
“You know what? I’m happy,” VIU’s Blaze Roberts told his coach afterward. “That was a very good team we played, and I think we played the best soccer we could play.”
The Mariners started the tourney with a 1-0 win over Holland College on Wednesday. Victor Blasco scored the goal and Scott Brown recorded the shutout. On Thursday, Jamie Taylor and Renan Rebelatto scored goals and Blasco had the shootout winner after a 2-2 game against Algonquin College. In Saturday’s final, Blasco scored twice and Jordan de Graaf and Luke Phye were the other scorers.
Aly Adeeb, Blasco and Rebelatto were chosen as tournament all-stars.
VIU women win one
VIU’s women’s soccer team won one game at its CCAA championship tournament this past weekend in Medicine Hat, Alta.
The M’s began play Wednesday with a 4-0 win over the host team, then lost 4-0 to F-X Garneau, in penalty kicks to Seneca after a 2-2 game and then 3-2 to Langara.
Ceilidh Glennie, Sarah Meredith, Carli Rey and Kaylee Dodds earned Player of the Game awards during the tourney.