VIU soccer rumbles with fiercest rival

Vancouver Island University’s soccer teams play their home openers Saturday (Sept. 17) at Mariner Field against the Douglas Royals, then host the Kwantlen Eagles Sunday.

The Mariners’ first home game might turn out to be the best one of the whole season.

Vancouver Island University’s soccer teams play their home openers Saturday (Sept. 17) at Mariner Field against the Douglas Royals, then host the Kwantlen Eagles on Sunday.

The weekend’s headline matchup is Saturday’s 3 p.m. tilt between the VIU men and their rivals from Douglas.

“They’re always going to be very very talented and for the last two years, they’ve been our No. 1 rivals in the B.C. conference,” said Chris Arnett, VIU veteran.

Two seasons ago, the Royals defeated the Mariners in the B.C. championship game. Last season the teams battled at the top of the table all autumn, though the Royals were upset at provincials before getting a chance to face the M’s.

Saturday, the Mariners (1-0) go into the game with an edge over the Royals (0-1-1) after the visitors suffered an uncharacteristic winless opening weekend.

“They’re going to be a strong team,” said Jared Stephens, one of VIU’s team captains. “I don’t think last week’s really indicative of where they’re at right now.”

Bill Merriman, VIU coach, said Douglas has a lot of new players who will be better in Week 2 of the Pacific Western Athletic Association schedule.

“They’re going to have a whole week of solid training and I think they’ll still end up being one of the best teams in the country,” Merriman said.

Playing against some new opponents, VIU’s Chris Arnett said his team will just need to force its own game against Douglas.

“We can’t really think about who they’re going to have, we just need to focus on what we’ve got and what we can bring to the table,” he said. “And it should be enough to take them down.”

M’s players said games against the Royals are as intense as it gets.

“It’s a bit of a backyard rumble, I guess you could say,” Arnett said.

The men play Saturday Sept. 17) at 3 p.m. They are back on the pitch at Mariner Field on Sunday (Sept. 18) for a 2 p.m. game against the Kwantlen Eagles. Prior to Sunday’s match there will be a 1:45 p.m. ceremony to honour the VIU Mariners for their 2010 Canadian Colleges’ Athletic Association championship.

Early season brings unknowns for VIU women

Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team also has a potentially tricky weekend of soccer ahead.

The lady M’s face the Douglas Royals women Saturday (Sept. 17) at 1 p.m. at Mariner Field, then host the Kwantlen Eagles Sunday at noon.

M’s coach Anup Kang thinks the Royals might be susceptible defensively, but said the Eagles play a defensive style of soccer that could be tough to crack.

VIU player Caity Genereaux said her team has had its share of troubles against Kwantlen in recent seasons, but 2011 is a new year.

“A lot of the teams in our league right now are pretty equal,” she said. “Everyone has their bad days and their good days. There were some results [last] weekend that were quite odd, so you never know.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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