By: Ryan McQuillan, Highlanders Communications

November 21, 2013, Victoria (ISN) – Tarnvir Bhandal has worked his way through the Highlanders ranks and was a strong contributor to the Men’s first team after excelling in the PCSL reserve team, as documented here. The midfielder was also just graduating high school at the time.

Bhandal is now finding success as part of Simon Fraser University’s team. The Clan moves into the third round of the NCAA Division 2 after defeating first-ranked Cal-State Los Angeles with a 2-1 decision and earn their spot in the “Sweet Sixteen.”

Bhandal played in 16 of SFU’s 20 games this season, including playoffs, and started five of those contests. He was able to tally a goal and two assists, good for four points, in the 752 minutes played this season. Bhandal registered a decent amount of playing time for his first collegiate season and continues to prove that he can compete at every level he plays at.

“Tarnvir possesses great maturity for a young player,” commented Highlanders PDL Head Coach Steve Simonson. “He is quite aware of his surroundings, confident in his abilities and always looking to be on the ball. What has ultimately paved the way for his early success in our club is his attitude and desire to push himself at all times. I remember starting him last season against the Whitecaps. It was only the second game of the young PDL season and he played fantastic and showed that he belonged in the league even though he was still in his final year of High School.”

Bhandal’s contributions on the pitch do not necessarily come in the form of filling the stat sheet. He is an intelligent player who can use length and presence to control the center of the pitch and has strong decision-making abilities.

The Clan’s next match comes in Denver, Colorado against UC San Diego and Bhandal is hoping to continue his strong play in his team’s vying for the championship.

“He’s coming in as a freshman and has got some playing time,” said Clan Head Coach Alan Koch. “Playing for the Highlanders has helped him make the transition. He’s been coming off the bench quite a bit in a lot of our recent games and has given us some depth. It will be a challenge playing in a climate like Denver and I’m sure he’ll get some more in this and the rest of our playoff games.”

“It’s going to be cold,” said Bhandal. “I’m excited; all the guys are really excited. I just go with the flow, try to get into the proper mentality and listen to what coach says. I think PDL paved the way for me to play well here. It’s such a talented group of players in the PDL, Coach Steve and the guys really helped me.”

When asked about what makes him such a strong player, the down-to-earth Bhandal credited his fundamental skills.

“I like to think I’m smart on the ball,” Bhandal said. “I like to keep it simple.”

The Highlanders wish Bhandal luck as he approaches his Sweet Sixteen match-up against UC San Diego. It will be a tough game but the experience will no doubt be a fun experience as well as an extremely valuable one in his soccer career.