VIU Mariners player Mateo Kostering passes the ball during a drill at practice Tuesday afternoon at Merle Logan Field.

VIU soccer teams have encouraging start to season

VIU’s soccer teams had their share of highlights as they went undefeated on a road trip to start the PacWest season.

VIU’s soccer teams had their share of highlights as they went undefeated on a road trip to start the season.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams began the Pacific Western Athletic Association season with games Saturday against the Douglas Royals and Sunday against the Langara Falcons.

VIU’s men started with a 2-0 shutout of the Royals, then tied the Falcons 1-1 the next day. The Mariners women started with a 5-5 tie and then earned a 2-2 draw.

Bill Merriman, coach of the Mariner men, liked the way his players started the season.

“I was really happy with the way they came out and actually with their performance in both games, I thought they did well,” he said.

Victor Blasco had both goals in the opener, scoring on a free kick in the first half and then a rocket from 25 yards out in the second half. David Turkstra recorded the shutout and Mateo Kostering was man of the match for his back-end efforts.

The next day it was Shun Takano scoring his first PacWest goal on a back-and-forth passing play with Blasco.

Merriman said the first two games of the season helped him evaluate players in meaningful game situations, something that’s important early in the season.

The team’s first home game is this Saturday (Sept. 17) against the Capilano Blues and the coach said the home opener is always exciting.

“This year, especially, because there’s been a lot of talk about the team and the players that have been brought in. And also it’s against Capilano who went to the finals in the nationals and they’re ranked No. 2 right now and they won both their games last week so the stage is set to be a great game of football for everybody,” Merriman said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I want people to come out and see our team, but also the league and the top two teams.”

The women’s matches should be good ones, too, as the high-scoring Mariners will try to keep up their pace on their home pitch.

Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team started the season with a five-goal effort, but bizarrely, had to settle for a 5-5 tie with the Royals.

“I’ve never been in a game that was 5-5,” said Anup Kang, VIU coach.

He saw some “really positive things,” with his side scoring some nice goals.

“We attacked in numbers. We came at them with four or five players in the attack and the defenders really had a tough time with it,” Kang said. “The other part of it, too, is we had a lot of speed in our attack.”

Though the team surrendered too many goals, the coach said quite a few of those came on set plays that are fixable with 90 minutes of smart soccer.

“Overall, the focus level was good, but at this level, you don’t focus for 90 minutes, you’re going to pay the price,” he said.

Rookie Chloe Gummer scored a hat trick in her PacWest debut – she was later chosen PacWest Athlete of the Week – and Rachel Jones and Moira Brown were other scorers.

The next day, VIU tied Langara 2-2, with Jones and Maddy Dawson scoring.

GAME ON … The VIU soccer teams play their home opener Saturday (Sept. 17) against Capilano at Merle Logan Field, with the women’s match at 1 p.m. followed by the men at 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s games against the Quest Kermodes are at noon and 2:30 p.m. at Merle Logan. Admission to VIU soccer games is always free.

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