In the biggest game of the season, Maple Ridge’s Daniel Molendijk showed why he’ll be suiting up for the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades men’s soccer team in September.
The 17-year-old recent Thomas Haney secondary grad potted a pair of goals and added a pair of assists as his Abbotsford Magnuson Ford Mariners FC trounced Shuswap FC 5-0 Saturday afternoon in the B.C. U-18 provincial final. The win means Molendijk and the rest of the Mariners will be off to Fredericton, New Brunswick to compete in the BMO U-18 National Championships.
“He is a very good striker and holds the ball very well,” says Alan Errington, head coach for the Mariners. “He’s a hard worker and he’s learned how to do the simple things quickly, and that’s the hardest thing to teach them to do.”
If anyone can spot soccer talent, it’s Errington, who was an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 1990s under Bob Lenarduzzi.
Errington is also the head coach for the University of Fraser Valley Cascades, and has recruited Molendijk to play for the CIS team.
“The sad thing about soccer in Canada is that with only four or five professional teams, there isn’t anywhere for them to go,” Errington says. “But the next best route is university.”
Molendijk says he’s looking forward to making the jump to university soccer with the Cascades.
“I love getting coached by him,” says Molendijk, who admits Errington’s intense coaching style caught him off guard at first. “He’ll tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong, but you can’t take it personal. It’s constructive criticism, he’s trying to help you be better.”
Molendijk plans to study kinesiology while at UFV, and hopes to land a scholarship, should he be eligible.
Molendijk started playing soccer when he was just four years old, playing with the six-year-olds on his older brother’s team. He continued to play up with older players with the Golden Ears United Soccer Club.
After a playing with a competitive summer league team in Abbotsford, Molendijk make the jump to the neighbouring association when he was 12 years old.
Molendijk and his teammates will have a while to wait before they can take a run at a national title, however. While the Mariners’ season is now over, the BMO National Championships don’t take place until October.
“We are going to try to train together until then,” he said. Making things easier will be the fact that nine members of the Mariners will be playing with Cascades next season.
Errington has twice coached U-18 national championship teams, in 2002 and 2003, and said the Mariners have the skill to win a third.
“I think we’re an even stronger squad,” he said.