November 6th, 2012


VIU Mariners will play for national championship

By Nanaimo News Bulletin
Published: November 09, 2012 10:00 AM

The VIU Mariners made it back to the national final.

Vancouver Island University's men's soccer team will play for gold at the Canadian Colleges' Athletic Association championships on Saturday (Nov. 10) in Coquitlam.

The No. 7-seeded Mariners pulled off two consecutive upsets at the tournament this week, first shutting out the Holland Hurricanes 3-0 on Wednesday and then getting past the host Douglas Royals 2-1 on Thursday.

Both results offered redemption for the M's, who were beaten by the Hurricanes at nationals last year and lost to the Royals last month at provincial championships.

Douglas had scored three goals in each of its last two meetings with VIU, but the M's brought a new game plan to last night's match.

"The biggest thing we worked on was just getting forward faster and in more numbers. That was huge for us," said Bill Merriman, VIU coach. "We pushed players up the park more and we got into the attack more rather than letting Douglas take it to us."

Ben Leggett scored about 10 minutes into the game on a header off a Chris Merriman corner kick. Douglas tied it by halftime, but with less than 10 minutes left, Dan Cato headed in a free kick from Davis Stupich.

"When a team's losing 2-1, you know they're going to throw everything at you and Douglas has a lot to throw at you," said Bill Merriman.

VIU goalkeeper Robbie Cochrane was called upon to make some great saves at the end, said the coach, and was named man of the match.

It was a semifinal that was so good and so intense that it was worthy of being a national final, said Merriman, especially in front of a rapt crowd of Douglas and VIU supporters.

"We had more fans out than they did. That really helped," he said. "Our fans were so loud and so passionate, it was unbelievable. I know it helped our players. It was all they could talk about after the game."

Now, VIU's soccer team has put itself in the running for a national banner. It will play a defensively sound Humber Hawks team that went into the tourney as the No. 5 seed.

"Our focus from Day 1 has been step by step. Our goal was to get here and what we had to do to get here," said Merriman. "Now we're here and we're in this game. It means so much."

GAME ON … The CCAA national final will be played Saturday at 5 p.m. at Coquitlam's Town Centre Park … In Wednesday's tournament opener against the Hurricanes, Chris Merriman scored the first goal then assisted on Ben Leggett's goal and Stephen Ewashko scored late in the game. Cochrane posted the shutout and Jordan DeGraff was chosen man of the match … Chris Merriman's goal at nationals came on Nov. 7, a month after he broke his leg in a match Oct. 6 … The Mariners won the CCAA championship in 2010.



VIU take down PACWEST champion Royals

The PACWEST provincial runner-ups VIU Mariners beat the provincial champion Royals 2-1 with a last minute goal in a heated game eight.

Scoring for VIU were defenders Ben Leggett and Dan Cato, and for Douglas forward Javid Khan.

Players of the game were forward Sahil Sandhu for Douglas and keeper Robbie Cochrane for VIU.

Boisterous hometown fans for both teams hollered in the stands for the much anticipated game. It was a tense battle as the two teams with a history took to the pitch. When Leggett scored ten minutes in it seemed a key moment as the teams fought for the half, the players scrapping over each possession.

It was a chippy game of fast turn-arounds. At one point a Douglas player pulled up short after a clip, waiting for a call that didn’t happen. Although there were plenty of calls. Both teams felt the pressure; there was little time on the ball. With 20 minutes left in the half, All-Canadian Sahil Sandu sprinted in for couple of chances on the net but couldn’t finish. In the last minutes of the half, Khan tied it up, moving into position on the left of the net, waiting for the set up and firing across the goal.

Minutes into the second half, VIU impossibly didn’t score after a loose ball in front of the Royals net bounced around a sea of boots. Tension overflowed and a brief altercation in front of VIU’s net brought a yellow card against Douglas. Ten minutes into the half Khan made a dramatic turn around and fed the ball to midfield Gagan Josan, who shot just wide. VIU pressed in for the last moments, Cato heading in the ball with just minutes to spare. It was a hard loss for the Royals on their home field.