The home team has made it to the national final.
The Vancouver Island University Mariners will play for a championship after blowing out the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks 6-1 in the semifinal Thursday night at Merle Logan Field.
The M’s were up 2-1 at halftime, then scored two quick goals in the 48th and 50th minute to build an insurmountable lead.
“Right from the beginning, I thought we dominated,” said Ryan McCurdy, man of the match for the Mariners. “They got an early goal, a little bit of a mistake by us, but right then I knew we were going to push on and win the game. Players did unreal today. A whole team effort and everyone was outstanding and we deserved it.”
Bill Merriman, VIU coach, said his team had different strategies for the first and second half and players made it work.
“I was really impressed with them as players, how they stuck to our game plan, and it worked because of them and because of their discipline and I was really proud and happy,” Merriman said.
McCurdy and Shun Takano scored two goals apiece and Jordan de Graaf and Fernando Fenollosa also scored. David Turkstra made four saves in goal. Ali Musse scored for NAIT.
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The Mariners will play the Douglas Royals in an all-PacWest final; the Royals shut out the Keyano Huskies in Thursday’s earlier semifinal.
McCurdy said winning the semifinals and advancing is an unbelievable feeling and has his team buzzing.
“It’s going to be a battle, but we’re going to regroup, focus for the game and hopefully win it here in Nanaimo,” McCurdy said.
VIU had two twins and a tie against Douglas during the Pacific Western Athletic Association season, but Merriman said the Royals are at a “different level” of soccer now and predicted the final will be “a game and a half.”
The coach said it’s meaningful to make it to the gold-medal match on home turf after all the build-up to nationals in Nanaimo.
“It’s something that we’ve wanted so bad and there’s a lot of people at VIU that fought for us to be able to host nationals and it means everything for us to get to that final game,” Merriman said. “I know people had their doubts because of the provincials and this and that, but these guys are great players and now they’re going to put on a good show in the finals.”
GAME ON … The Mariners and Royals play Saturday, Nov. 11 at 4:30 p.m. at Merle Logan Field. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for youths 13-18 and free for children.