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VIU soccer teams in the mix at nationals

Mariners men in Oshawa, women in Edmonton for CCAA championships
VIU Mariners player Sager Bradley, left, looks to pass the ball during the PacWest final against the Douglas Royals last month in Burnaby. (Mary Kessenich/PacWest photo)

Vancouver Island University’s soccer teams have scored a lot of goals on the pitch and achieved a lot of their goals, too, but there are a couple of major goals still looming.

The VIU men’s and women’s soccer sides are both trying for national titles at their respective Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship tournaments. The men are in Oshawa, Ont. and the women in Edmonton and both tourneys get underway Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The M’s men are making their return to national-level competition after winning CCAA gold two seasons ago. After missing the post-season last year, the squad finished top-of-the-table this year and won PacWest silver after being edged out 1-0 by the Douglas Royals in the provincial final last month.

Coach Larry Stefanek said in a press release the PacWest final was a close game that could have gone either way.

“I was happy with our overall performance and thought that we did enough to win the game, but sometimes in soccer that happens,” he said. “It has been a fantastic season, with a few of our players earning all-star awards and demonstrating they are some of the top players in the league.”

He said it’s fantastic for the program to return to nationals and said last week that his team was going into the tournament confident in its ability to have success.

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VIU’s women go into CCAA nationals as two-time reigning PacWest champions and coach Kevin Lindo said in a press release that his team has potential to play even more of a complete game than it did in its overwhelming 6-1 victory in the B.C. final last month. He added that the team knows the challenge of nationals won’t be easy, but the Mariners women are excited are raring to go.

“The team is an inspiring, close-knit group and I hope that is going to give us an extra edge at nationals,” he said. “We’re trying to build a legacy here, something that the community can be really proud of.”

Stephanie White, VIU director of high-performance sport, recreation and physical literacy, said very few CCAA programs send both their men’s and women’s teams to the nationals.

“The success of our men’s and women’s soccer programs is a direct result of the skill, intention and leadership of our Mariners’ student-athletes and the coaching staff,” said White.

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