The Vancouver Island University Mariners soccer programs are hoping for better results out of their home opener this weekend than they had from their season openers last weekend.
The men's team split their two games against Thomspon Rivers University WolfPack and the UBC-Okanagan Heat, while the women lost both matches despite a strong effort to kick off their Pacific Western Athletic Association campaigns.
This weekend they host the Langara Falcons on Saturday and the Quest Kermodes on Sunday at Merle Logan Field.
Despite only getting three out of six points last weekend, men's head coach Bill Merriman is feeling good about the way his team looks right now.
"We had a good first game, and I thought even the second game we did well," he said. "It was a very physical team that we played, but I thought our new players and our younger players, they reacted well."
The biggest thing is they are already showing their ability to score goals. They tallied six times between the two games, and with newcomers like Keegan Lang, David Durrant and Youssef Abdulgani finding the back of the net should not be the problem.
The other side of that coin is, they also let in six goals. Merriman knew his back line would be an issue this year, especially early on, do to graduation of several key veterans and injuries. They do have one stalwart on defence, captain Dan Cato, and he will be leaned on heavily to help develop the unit.
"He's playing a little bit injured, but he's so dedicated and he's that one guy that has that heart and passes it on," said Merriman.
"Danny Cato, right now in our situation, is probably one of our most valuable players."
The women also played well on the weekend against two tough opponents, but their biggest issue from last year returned, their ability to finish in the 2-1 and 3-1 losses to UBC-O and TRU, respectively.
"We actually played quite well in both games. Playing at TRU and UBC-O, it's a tough road trip at any time, so it's a tough place to get results," said women's head coach Anup Kang. "We're not really concerned, we're creating chances and I think we'll be scoring goals this year for sure."
A big shining spot for the Mariners was the play of sophomore midfielder Rachel Jones, who was a constant threat all weekend, despite being closely marked by their opponents.
"She was playing against two of the best midfielders and two of the best players in our league last weekend, and she just played probably as good or outplayed both of those players, " said Kang of their leading scorer from last season.
"She's led by examples and I'm
sure other players that are watching
will follow suit."
Langara is one of the fast rising programs in the PacWest while Quest is always a difficult out. The Langara women opened with a tie at Kwantlen (1-1) and a win over Douglas (3-0) and the men swept their opening week with wins over Kwantlen (3-1) and Douglas (1-0). Meanwhile the Quest women opened with wins against Douglas (2-1) and Kwantlen (3-2), while the men's team lost to Douglas (3-1) and tied Kwantlen (1-1).
Saturday's games against the Falcons starts with the women at 1 p.m. and the men at 3 p.m., while action Sunday goes with the women at noon and the men at 2 p.m.
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