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VIU Mariners earn bronze on home turf
The VIU Mariners couldn't knock off the league's top team, but they still made a strong showing at provincials on their home turf.
Vancouver Island University's men's soccer team won bronze at the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships, defeating the Langara Falcons 3-1 on Sunday at Merle Logan Field. The day before, VIU lost to the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack 2-1 in a hard-fought semifinal.
Bill Merriman, VIU coach, said his team was focused and wanted to win its bronze-medal match.
"It was great to see them come back and play with the same kind of intensity as they did yesterday in the semifinal game," he said. "I'm proud when I see teams that I coach do that kind of thing."
Dan Cato, team captain, called it a good show of character.
"Even though it's not that goal that we had hoped for, we never stopped working," he said.
Mateo Kostering scored twice in the bronze-medal match and Keegan Lang had VIU's other goal.
The day before, the WolfPack scored early in each half and led 2-0, but the Mariners' Renan Rebelatto made it 2-1 on a solo effort to make it a more furious finish.
"We battled right till the end," Cato said. "You saw their team with all 11 players in the box trying to defend and we were pressing, pressing, pressing."
The VIU Mariners will take a lot of positives from provincials. It was an achievement just to qualify in a tough PacWest conference, especially with a young team and a re-tooled core in 2013.
"From the beginning to the end, you could see how they came together as a team," Merriman said. "[The semifinal] was a perfect example of that – every player was contributing, every player was helping each other and it's great to see for the future."
Cato, a graduating veteran, said he's proud of his team and feels like he's moving on from a program that has a lot of potential.
"They've learned a ton about what VIU's about and how to win on the soccer field and also in life," he said. "I hope they carry all those lessons forward. They have a good future ahead of them."