The Vancouver Island University Mariners soccer teams begin their march towards hosting provincials this week.
Men are coming off of three straight trips to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championships podium, while the women are hoping this is their year to finally break through at the Pacific Western Athletic Association tournament.
The women were the hard luck team of the year last season, outchancing and outworking most of their opponents but failed to capitalize on far too many of those opportunities.
They are hoping those problems are solved through a strong recruiting year and they will be ready to earn a PacWest championship berth.
"With a short season that we have, there's always pressure to do well because if you don't start off well, you can be out of it quickly," said head coach Anup Kang. "But we have a number players entering their third or fourth year and they should be used to the pressure and be OK."
VIU is returning top players Rachel Jones, Caity Generaux, Emma Johnson, Carli Rey and Samantha Rogers. However, they are hoping newcomers like Kaylee Dodds and Zoe Grace put them over the top.
"We're really excited about this group, they have really come along and gelled on the field and off the field," said Kang. "We feel it's a special group and hopefully we can do some special things."
They do have some early injury concerns to key players, including Rogers and Sarah Meredith. The men are in a bit of a rebuilding year, but after winning national gold, bronze and silver the last three seasons, respectively, there is no real chance to take a step back. Everyone will be gunning for them, to take them down.
They have had a strong recruiting season with the likes of Farhad Abdulgani, David Durrant and Dover Bay Dolphins star Keegan Lang.
They are joining a bit of a depleted group, but a strong crew nonetheless with captain Dan Cato, Mateo Kostering and Chris Arnett.
They both open the season with two road games, playing in Kelowna at UBC-Okanagan on Saturday and then at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops on Sunday.
Bulldogs look to build on record-setting victory
The Barsby Bulldogs are hoping to build off of their record-setting performance in their first exhibition game of the B.C. High School Football season when they travel to Surrey on Friday to play the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers.
The Bulldogs beat the Duchess Park Condors 81-0 in Prince George on Saturday in an all Varsity AA matchup, but they are expecting a bigger test out of the Varsity AAA power this week.
Mariners open golf season at Morning Star
The VIU Mariners golf program hosts the first leg of the PacWest championship tour this weekend at Morning Star Golf Club
in Parksville. The tournament tees off on Saturday and runs through Sunday.
It's a four stop tour wrapping up at the Chilliwack Golf and Country Club on Oct. 5-6.
ON TAP - The Nanaimo Clippers open their B.C. Hockey
League season at the BCHL showcase at the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack. On Saturday they play The West Kelowna Warriors at 3 p.m. and on Sunday they play the Prince George Spruce Kings at 2 p.m.. .. The Nanaimo Buccaneers play their second game of the Vancouver Island Junior B Hockey League season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Parksville against the Oceanside Generals.
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