VIU Mariners player Rachel Jones takes a corner kick during practice Tuesday at Merle Logan Field. The season starts Saturday (Sept. 10) with a road game.

VIU Mariners player Rachel Jones takes a corner kick during practice Tuesday at Merle Logan Field. The season starts Saturday (Sept. 10) with a road game.

VIU women’s soccer team wants the ball

NANAIMO – VIU’s women’s soccer team has added skill, scoring and depth as it prepares to take the field for the 2016 PacWest season.

The VIU Mariners, coming from all areas of the pitch, will be hard to stop.

Vancouver Island University’s women’s soccer team has added skill, scoring and depth as it prepares to take the field for the 2016 Pacific Western Athletic Association season.

Anup Kang, the team’s coach, said the Mariners have had a productive off-season and pre-season.

“They’ve worked really hard and I really like this group here and I think it can be a special, special group of players,” he said.

Kang expects this year’s Mariners to have more offensive skill.

“We’ll be able to possess the ball more; it’ll be more of a team attack…” he said. “I think this year you’ll see more numbers in the attack and really putting pressure on defences.”

Rachel Jones, midfielder, said she’s seeing better team play and depth everywhere, including scoring depth.

“We don’t just have one designated goal scorer,” she said. “All of our attackers can score, our wingers, our forwards, our centre mids, everybody can score. We even have some defenders that can get in the box and score, too, on corner kicks and free kicks.”

Jill Kelly, who led the M’s in goals last year, is back, Jones will be another scoring threat and striker Kaylee Dodds looks faster than ever.

A newcomer to the midfield, Harveen Sanghera, adds skill and complements the players around her well.

Zoe Grace returns as a key player in the back end along with Darby Cronan, and Harroop Malli joins the unit.

Emily Rowbotham, who Kang said was the best goalkeeper in the PacWest last season, is also back.

GAME ON … The VIU women visit the Douglas Royals on Saturday and the Langara Falcons on Sunday. First home action for the Mariners is Sept. 17 against Capilano.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com