While the Victoria Highlanders First Team just kicked off their 2019 USL League Two campaign this past Friday, the Highlanders Second Team are gearing up for their 2019 Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) season. The Highlanders Second Team season starts tonight with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against the Mid Isle Mariners at UVic Grass Field #4.
The squad will once again be led by head coach Nico Craveiro, returning from the 2018 season, and player-assistant coaches Cam Hundal and Patrick Nelson. Last season saw the Craveiro-coached squad finish with a 6-4-2 record good enough for 22 points and a second-place finish in the Premier Men Division. The Highlanders squad also finished with the second-best goal differential in the division.
“This team has a good mix of veteran and youth players,” added Craveiro. “We had one of the youngest team last year and with the addition of many youth players from the Highlanders academy we will be even younger this season. My two assistant coaches, Patrick Nelson and Cam Hundal, are two players that will assist in running the team but also are very good players that will be an asset to the success and development of these players.”
Notable returning players include Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Rookie of the Year winner and former Highlander Ryan Ashlee, the PCSL’s second-leading goal scorer from the 2018 season Patrick Nelson, UVic Vikes goal scorers Ian Whibley and Matteo Ventura, and League 1 Ontario veteran Dylan Kirk.
The squad also features seven members of the Thomas Niendorf-coached Westcastle United that captured the 2019 VISL Jackson Cup. One of which, Kadin Martin, will be the youngest player on the team, but will step into a feature role for the upcoming season.
“Kadin Martin is a youth player who will get lots of minutes this season,” explained Craveiro. “He is the youngest player on our team, very good on the ball and is not afraid to run at defenders. I look forward to seeing him over the next 2 to 3 months.”
The PCSL side finished the year with a trip to the league semi-finals. With playoff experience, new additions from a cup-winning squad, and a returning coaching staff, the Highlanders are looking forward to another successful year in the PCSL.
“Last season we finished 2nd in the league and lost to UBC in the semi finals. Our goal this year is to finish top of the league and win the playoffs at the end of the year,” Craveiro followed up. “I feel this team is better than last year. We play 14 games in 2 months so the games come fast so the key will be to balance playing time and in finding the right fit and chemistry within the team.
Highlanders Second Team Roster
|Ian Whibley||Matteo Ventura||Sergio Duran||Javier Sagaste||Evan Willis||Bobby Eng|
|Rees Gertzen||Evan Libtke||Evan Stefanik||Simon Stacey||Kadin Martin||Leo Nakabayashi|
|Sachdev Grewal||Maurizio Abdi||Joey Seo||Kayden Miner||Dylan Kirk||Joel Watson|
|Daniel Zadravec||Adoubacar Cisse||Owen Stewart||Kanyepi Rungano||Ethan May||Ryan Ashlee|
|Patrick Nelson||Cam Hundal|
The Highlanders Second team will play out of UVic Grass Field #4 as their home field for the 2019 PCSL season.