Soccer Teams Training

August 7th, 2013


VIU soccer teams open training camps

Josh Aldrich - Nanaimo Daily News


School is still almost a month away from starting, but the Vancouver Island University Mariners soccer teams open their training camps today.

The men's team has made the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association finals the last three years, but will undergo a mass turnover on the roster this season. The women's team has added some top players, hoping for a breakthrough this season.

After earning silver at the Pacific Western Athletic Association finals and then losing the national final in a shootout last season, the men's team is hoping an injection of youth will go along way.

They'll need it, especially after losing a couple of players to season-ending injuries during the summer like top striker Drissa Bouare, who tore ligaments in his knee.

"It's going to be interesting, because the players we brought in definitely have the talent, but now it's just a matter of getting that chemistry back and getting them to work together," said head coach Bill Merriman.

He adds that likely three quarters of the roster will be new players.

The two biggest additions are Dover Bay Dolphins star Keegan Lang and Norwegian import Farhad Abdulgani.

Lang dominated while playing several different positions with Mid Isle Highlanders U-21 Pacific Coast Soccer League reserve division team this summer, and should figure prominently somewhere on the field in his freshman year with the Mariners. Abdulgani is not completely new to B.C. The Norway national spent two years at Simon Fraser University and a year with the Victoria Highlanders' Pacific Development League team before returning to his home country last year. But he wanted to come back to Canada and VIU was waiting with open arms.

He can play both midfield and striker, giving Merriman even more flexibility, though he is most excited about his leadership qualities.

"He can score goals, but he's also got that experience behind him that he can show leadership to our players," said Merriman.

They open practice at 4 p.m. at Merle Logan Field in Nanaimo.

The women will be running two-a-day practices starting at 8 a.m. today at Merle Logan and continuing at 6 p.m. at Mariner Field.

They had a difficult season in 2012. Despite high expectations and playing well defensively, they could not buy a goal.

"We thought we were one of the better teams in the league last year, unfortunately with our chances, we couldn't get anything to go in for us," said head coach Anup Kang.

"We led the league in shutouts, but all of those shutouts were ties. If we can get a bit of luck here or there, those ties will turn into wins and we're right up there at the top of the league."

VIU will be bolstered by a former adversary, as midfielder Kaylee Dodds has jumped from the Kwantlen Eagles to join the Mariners as a sophomore. She played especially well against the Mariners in her rookie year.

They have also added Nanaimo District Secondary School grad Moira Brown and Saskatchewan provincial team member Zoe Grace.

Kang says they will also look different just through their position changes. He has shuffled several players around the field with success, many of them getting

used to their new positions while helping the Highlanders U-21 team to a silver medal in the PCSL reserve division Challenge Cup.

"We're very happy with how they played there this past season, some of the girls there really took a step forward," said Kang.

"That's why we're s excited about this upcoming season to see where we can utilize that at the university level."

This weekend they have an alumni game on Saturday at noon at Mariner Field. 250-729-4243