VIU Mariners player Katie Rodgers passes to a teammate during Saturday’s game against the Langara Falcons at Merle Logan Field. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

VIU soccer celebrates its veterans as playoffs get closer

Mariners men win two more, women lose and tie in final regular-season home games

Vancouver Island University’s soccer teams played their last regular-season matches on home turf.

The Mariners, approaching the end of the 2017 Pacific Western Athletic Association season, honoured graduating players this past Sunday at Merle Logan Field in between matches against the Douglas Royals.

VIU’s women tied 2-2 and the men were 3-0 winners.

After the women’s match, a joint ceremony was held, the largest ever in the soccer program’s history with 16 players celebrated.

Players who will graduate from the women’s side at season’s end include Rachel Jones, Katie Rodgers, Zoe Grace and Moira Brown. Those who will move on from the men’s team include Andres Algarin, Colin Knight, Miguel Banting, Aly Adeeb, Ben Robson, Stephen Ewashko, Russell Lederer, Jamie Taylor, Jeff Travis, Stefan Cukovic, Peter Cooper and Luke Holmes.

The day before, VIU’s women lost 2-1 to the Langara Falcons and VIU’s men won 6-0.

The teams are both holding down playoff positions, with the Mariners men (8-1-1) in first place in their conference and the women (2-3-5) holding down fourth in their table.

“It’s nice to be still in the mix and we still want to win every game irrespective of where we finish because we want that confidence to take us into provincials when we get there,” said Kevin Lindo, coach of the VIU women.

He said the team will use its final matches to try to transfer some of its efforts from the practice pitch into game day.

“We’ve put a lot of work into the process, so we really need to bring that into the game right at the start, not just the second half…” Lindo said. “It’s a focus thing.”

As for the Mariners men, they’re putting a lot of emphasis on capitalizing on scoring chances and making sure players know they can jump into the play and try for a goal.

“We’ve been working a lot on shooting and trying to finish more when we do get our opportunities, because you play Capilano and Douglas, you might get one, two, three chances and you’ve got to be able to finish those chances,” said Bill Merriman, coach of VIU’s men.

He said his team, a top contender even before the season started, is on the right trajectory as playoffs approach.

“The players have figured it out and understand the system that we want to play and it’s coming together now when we need it to,” Merriman said.

GAME ON … VIU’s soccer teams conclude their PacWest seasons this coming weekend (Oct. 21-22) with road games at Quest and Capilano. Provincials are the following weekend in Squamish. VIU will host the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships Nov. 8-11 at Nanaimo’s Merle Logan Field.

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