The Vancouver Island University Mariners were one minute away form a perfect weekend as they opened their Pacific Western Athletic Association home schedule.
They beat the Langara Falcons 2-1 on Saturday and were up 1-0 on the Quest Kermodes on Sunday when they were called for a foul in injury time and Laith Matlak managed to convert off the set play for Quest and to steal a 1-1 tie.
Mariners head coach Bill Merriman was seething afterwards. "I felt bad for the boys, they played really well and deserved the three points," he said.
"You're not supposed to say anything about referees, but seriously that was a non-call that went their way in the extra time."
Mateo Kostering scored the Mariners' only goal on Sunday while Ben Robson scored both of their goals on Saturday against the Falcons.
The tie left the Mariners with a 2-1-1 record through the first two weeks of the season, but so far there is a lot to be happy about.
"I think they're playing some great soccer," said Merriman," But as a coach, you also feel helpless because they gave everything they had. For me, it's a six-point weekend for them, for a young team to compete like that, you can't ask for more than that."
VIU looked good for the win through the first 80 minutes, Kostering scoring their only goal early in the second half. They did have other opportunities, but Quest Evan Cross was solid, making several big saves to keep the Kermodes in the game.
The biggest issue seems to be putting in a full 90-minute effort or focus.
They have gone through lapses where they lose that edge and it has cost them, as it did on Sunday - they left the door open for the Kermodes and then failed to close them out.
"We played well the first 60 minutes. .. but the last 10 or 20 we just tried to hold them off instead of trying to keep possession," said Kostering, 23. "It's the same thing as (Saturday) we just kept giving the ball away too easily."
Merriman was impressed with the effort from Kostering on the weekend.
"It's not just because he scored, but his work rate is so high right now," said Merriman.
The Mariners also got a solid effort out of Nanaimo freshman Keegan Lang and import senior Farhad Abdulgani, who were dangerous all weekend.
Next weekend the Mariners host the Kwantlen Eagles on Saturday at 2 p.m. and the Douglas Royals on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Merle Logan Field.
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