The Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer program has proven to be a perennial contender. The challenge is to stay at that level.
This year’s VIU Mariners (1-1) make their home debut Saturday (Sept. 14) at Merle Logan Field after splitting against UBC-Okanagan and Thompson Rivers this past weekend.
The M’s are working to rebuild their core. Coach Bill Merriman said this year reminds him of his first year with the program.
The difference now, perhaps, is that VIU has a national reputation. It attracts top recruits and it expects to win.
“They come with that kind of hope,” said Merriman. “Whether it happens, well, in our league you never know.”
The returnees include Chris Arnett, Dan Cato, Jamie Taylor, Mateo Kostering, Nick Moore and Blaze Roberts. Farhad Abdulgani, Renan Rebelatto, Keegan Lang and Miguel Banting are some of the newcomers who are expected to make an impact.
Merriman said he’s been impressed with the work ethic players have shown.
“We dress in the jersey and we’re going for it,” Rebelatto said. “[In] soccer you never know if you’re going to win or not but at least we’re going to go and sweat the jersey.”
Already on the eve of the season, he said the players were a family, ready to play for each other and work toward their common goal. To achieve that goal, they’ll have to win a lot of games against a lot of good teams in an ever-improving PacWest conference.
“This league, it keeps getting better and better, every team, and this year is no different,” Merriman said. “With us rebuilding it’s going to be interesting. I think we can compete, for sure, it’s just a matter of how quickly we can get everybody working together and getting up to that pace.”
Last weekend the M’s started with a 4-2 win over UBCO before falling 4-2 to TRU. Nick Moore and Keegan Lang scored in both games and Abdulgani and David Durrant had VIU’s other markers.
The M’s play the Langara Falcons on Saturday at 3 p.m. and take on the Quest Kermodes on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both games are at Merle Logan Field.
VIU women will play focused soccer
Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team knows how important every minute of the match can be.
The team will keep that in mind as it plays its home opener Saturday (Sept. 14) at Merle Logan Field.
Coach Anup Kang said the team didn’t do as well as it might have last season because it would play 88 or 89 good minutes and have a lapse.
“So we’ve been really harping on this group of playing a full 90 minutes consistently,” he said.
Becky Weiss, veteran player, said part of that comes down to confidence.
“We all have really good skill, but it’s when we doubt ourselves that we stop playing,” she said. “As long as we’re all confident and we realize that we can take that touch and play the ball we’ll get into the game that focus will come with that.”
She said the team as a whole pressures really well and doesn’t settle for losing the ball.
“We have a lot of hard workers and people who are ready to dig to get that ball back,” she said.
Samantha Rodgers, Jessica Burma, Sarah Meredith, Rachel Jones, Jessie Weninger, Caity Genereaux, Emma Johannson and Shelby Walker are some of the returning players and Moira Brown, Kaylee Dodds and Amanda Dodds are some of the newcomers who will contribute.
The M’s women lost to UBC-Okanagan 2-1 and then lost 3-1 to Thompson Rivers last weekend. Walker and Kaylee Dodds scored goals.
The VIU ladies take on the Langara Falcons on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Merle Logan Field and then host the Quest Kermodes on Sunday at noon, also at Merle Logan.