VIU women’s soccer team scores provincial championship

Vancouver Island University's women's soccer team won the PacWest title on Saturday night in Squamish, defeating the Langara Falcons 1-0.

The VIU Mariners have been supremely focused, and it’s brought them a provincial championship.

Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team won the Pacific Western Athletic Association title on Saturday night in Squamish, defeating the Langara Falcons 1-0 in the gold-medal match.

“It was a fantastic feeling,” said Anup Kang, the team’s coach. “It was a reward for all the hard work these girls have put in during the off-season and during the season and how focused they have been.”

The Mariners won their semifinal match against the Kwantlen Eagles on Friday night by a 1-0 score, as Jillian Kelly struck late in extra time.

“It was a big relief, because we were five minutes away from going into penalty shots and then it becomes a toss-up at that point,” Kang said.

That semifinal win was all the Mariners needed to secure their berth in nationals in two weeks’ time. Still, they took the pitch the next day with a provincial championship foremost in their thoughts. Kang could see it as soon as he stepped into the locker room for his pre-game pep talk.

“You could look into the eyes of each of the girls and you knew we were going to come out and play a real good game,” he said. “They were just so focused and tuned in.”

VIU goalkeeper Shelby Walker made a “phenomenal” save early, said the coach, and the turning point came about half an hour in, when a Falcons player was called for a hand ball in the box and Samantha Rodgers scored on the ensuing penalty kick.

Rodgers was chosen as tournament MVP and Walker and midfielder Maddy Dawson were tournament all-stars. The PacWest crown was the first championship for Mariners women’s soccer since 1993.

“We’re very versatile, we can play different styles … We’ve got a bit of everything and I think that’s what’s really special,” Kang said. “The other part of it, too, is this group, mentally, is the strongest group I’ve had in all my years at VIU.”

Nationals will be held in Medicine Hat, Alta. from Nov. 5-8.

Mariners men make nationals

VIU’s men’s soccer team will also get a chance to play for a Canadian championship after earning silver at PacWest provincials in Squamish this past weekend.

The men lost Sunday’s gold-medal final to the Douglas Royals in penalty shots after a 1-1 match. Victor Blasco scored VIU’s goal on a penalty kick.

The previous day’s semifinal also went to a shootout as the M’s got past the Quest Kermodes after a 2-2 match. Blaze Roberts and Blasco scored goals for the Mariners.

Midfielder Renan Rebelatto and defender Jeff Travis were both selected as tournament all-stars.

Nationals will be held in Oakville, Ont. from Nov. 5-8.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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