Nationals on home soil

August 27th, 2017

NANAIMO NEWS NOW
by Dan Marshall

The VIU Mariners have already started down the road towards a national CCAA title.

 
The men's squad will host the national championship November 8-11 and they just completed an undefeated preseason with three wins and a tie.
 
Coach Bill Merriman is happy with the Mariners progress so far, especially with the depth of the squad. 
 
He says it's going to make the final roster decisions very difficult.
 
Merriman can have a roster of 22 and dress 18 players for each match.
 
This week the players will be training every day and there's still the possibility of an exhibition game being put together on Thursday.
 
Saturday and Sunday will be off days and then training will resume Monday and continue up until the home opener September 9 against Langara.  
 
Merriman says the Mariners don't want to be a team that gets to the nationals just because they're the host team - they want to get there on merit.
 
"This year we've definitely approached it a bit differently. We started earlier, we're trying to get all the players focused earlier, because we know already we're going to the nationals. We still want to do very well in the PACWEST because it's all about seeding as well," said Merriman.
 
Some players on the Mariners roster have had recent success playing in other leagues recently with clubs in the VISL and the PCSL.
 
The hope is that the experience gained through playing with those other clubs will help VIU hit the ground running in September.
 
In the offseason the Mariners bolstered their backline with some additions at centre back and outside back.
 
Merriman says some new faces up front will also add to the club's overall speed.
 
The goal this season is not only for VIU to be a winning team but an exciting team.
 
There are six international players Merriman thinks will impress local fans plus a strong core that includes some homegrown talent as well.
 
The last VIU national championship for a men's soccer team was in 2010, their only other title came when they were the Malaspina Mariners back in 1983.