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By Brent Dunlop, VIU Communications

November 1, 2012, Nanaimo, BC – The VIU Mariners placed second at the PacWest Provincial soccer finals last week, playing in their 4th final in as many years and will now head to the National Championships beginning on Wednesday, Nov 7th at 5:30pm vs the Holland Hurricanes from Charlottetown PEI.

The Mariners goal from the start of the season was to get back to the National Championships and they achieved that goal this weekend at Quest University. Their first game Saturday was against a strong TRU Wolfpack but the Mariners came prepared to play knowing what was at stake.

It was Drissa Bouare that put the Mariners on the board first he picked up a loose ball that was sent in by Stephen Ewashko after Jordan Degraff had done some creative footwork to put pressure on the Wolf pack’s backline.

Then Ewashko scored one of his own after Davis Stupich had made a run down the right side of the field and put in a cross to Ewashko and the Mariners leading scorer made no mistake. The first half ended 2-0 with the Mariners still fired up to try and put the game away.

Blaze Roberts came on in the 2nd half as a substitute and it didn’t take long for the goal scoring rookie to climb into the air and score his 5th header of the year.  AJ Kambere had made the run down the right side and put in the cross that found Roberts head. Then it was Jordan Degraff making another one of his runs into the penalty area he was able to beat a defender, get around the keeper and find the back of the net. That was all the scoring for the 2nd half and the game ended 4-0. Degraff was named player of the game for his consistent runs and trouble he caused the Wolfpack backline. Mariners captain Matt Mehrassa was another player that had an impressive game.

“I was very pleased with the focus and work rate of our team as we had been preparing for this game over the last two weeks” noted Head Coach Bill Merriman.  “It would be hard to single out players but I would have to say Ewashko played his best game of the year along with a number of other players.”

Sunday the Mariners faced the 1st place Douglas Royals in a show down for the PacWest Championship but the Mariners came up short with Douglas winning 3-0. The Royals came out fast and put early pressure on the Mariner defenders and were rewarded with a freekick, the ball was swung in from out wide and the Royals were able to head in a rebound after goal keeper Robbie Cochrane had made a big save.

The game started to even out but it was still the Royals that had the better scoring opportunities defenders Ben Leggett and Dan Cato did a good job of holding things together in the back along with the outstanding goal keeping of Robbie Cochrane. The first half ended 1-0 in Douglas College’s favour.

The 2nd half was more back and forth and looked like the Mariners were going to tie the game when the speeding Jordan Degraff broke in past the Royals defenders only to see his low shot just go wide. Shortly after the Mariners chance the Royals were awarded a free kick that they eventually scored off of ,after they jumped on a loose ball. The Mariners continued to work hard with Ben Leggett leading the way from the backline but it was Douglas that went up by 3-0 on an own goal . The 2nd half and game ended 3-0 with the Mariners settling for the silver medal. Jordan Degraff was named player of the game for the 2nd time in as many days. Danny Cato received a well disserved ,PacWest defender of the tournament.

“I know the team was not happy with their performance today” noted Merriman.  “I felt they had put so much into that first game that not only physically but also emotionally some of them were drained. The team knew the importance of that first game and that winning that game gave them the birth to the Nationals. 5th year player Ben Leggett did everything he could to try and lead his team to the Provincial Championship but it was not to be, I felt bad for him and the team.” 

Watch all the National Championship games live on the Men’s Soccer National Championships website …