The skies opened up Saturday evening, but Vancouver Island University men’s soccer team wasn’t letting Douglas College rain on its parade, beating the Royals 1-0 to win the 2017 national soccer championship.
VIU Mariners forward Stefan Cukovic scored in the 15th minute and the Mariners hung on the rest of the way to take the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association crown on home turf.
Bill Merriman, VIU head coach, said he expected a battle in the title game and was proud of his team.
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“I thought they played their hearts out,” said Merriman. “I know maybe it wasn’t the most attractive football, but a lot of times that’s what happens in championship games, but they definitely played with everything they had. Our defence came out and they came to play today too.”
— Karl Yu (@KarlYuBulletin) November 12, 2017
The head coach was also complimentary of his team’s play throughout the tournament.
“I thought we played great,” said Merriman. “I thought we played our best football of the year, probably one of the best I’ve seen a VIU team play … I’ve seen a lot of teams here with a lot of grit, a lot of heart and some very, very good teams, not to take anything away from them, but technically, I think this team is definitely [up there].”
Shun Takano, VIU midfielder, was named tournament MVP and he said it wasn’t an easy match.
“Today’s game was so tough because the score was 1-0,” said Takano. “Douglas College had a chance, but we totally defended them. Everyone focused on their game, everyone put on 120 per cent energy to the pitch so we could win, so now we are feeling so happy.”
Congrats to our Award Winners:
Tournament All Stars:
#8 Chris Merriman
#23 Ryan McCurdy
#18 Jordan DeGraff
And of course, the Tournament MVP goes to our very own:
#7 Shun Takano
Thank you for your hard work, perseverance and great play! #WeAreAllMariners
— VIU Mariners (@VIUMariners) November 12, 2017
It rained steadily in the second half and Merriman said it was fitting for the CCAA championship game.
“The boys we’re talking about it this morning, they were saying, ‘We hope it rains.’ It’s an all-B.C. final, we might as well have West Coast weather.”