VIU soccer teams rising

Vancouver Island University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams are both in first place after the first month of the PacWest season.

VIU Mariners soccer player Maddy Dawson

Other teams can’t even score on the VIU Mariners, let alone win.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams are both in first place after the first month of the Pacific Western Athletic Association season.

The teams are doing a lot of things well, but much of their success has started in the back end. Neither Mariners team allowed a goal on a road trip this past weekend. So far in 2014, the men have outscored the opposition 19-5, the women have outscored opponents 21-5.

VIU men’s captain Jeff Travis was selected PacWest Athlete of the Week for his recent defensive play.

“We’re just starting to finally come together as a unit, which is important on the back line,” he said. “We’re starting to get our communication sorted out and we’re starting to work together better.”

It’s resulted in five clean sheets already for the Mariners and goalkeeper Scott Brown.

Women’s keeper Shelby Walker also has five shutouts. Her back line is dealing with injury, but is battling through it.

“I’ve felt like we’ve been connecting really well and we have great chemistry,” said Zoe Grace, Mariners defender. “And the shots that Shelby does get, she has been playing so well this year. She’s just a beauty.”

The side’s well-rounded game and its first-place standing have made players more excited about the team’s potential.

“We didn’t really know what was going to happen this year,” Grace said. “We knew we had a strong team, but now that we’re [in first place], we want it more than ever and we’re not going to give up.”

The men’s success has been even more pronounced, as the M’s have the same number of points (23) as the second- and third-placed teams put together.

“You can’t focus on the standings too much…” Travis said. “You’ve got to have the same mindset before every game and hopefully you’ll play good.”

GAME ON … The VIU Mariners host the Quest Kermodes on Saturday (Oct. 4) at Merle Logan Field. The women’s match is at 1 p.m. and the men play at 3 p.m.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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