Two Terrace athletes have found their way to university provincial gold on the soccer field, for the second year running.
Jared Stephens and Daniel Young-Mercer helped the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners defend their title in Kelowna, winning the 2011 Pacwest Provincial championships, on Oct. 30.
They beat out the Capilano Blues for the top spot, 2-1, in the final game.
The game started off strong for the Mariners when two early goals put them into the lead, going into half time with 2-0 on the scoreboard.
“In the second half, they really proved how tenacious and determined they were,” Stephens said, of the Blues’ second half performance.
However, he said the Mariners held the off a Blues’ onslaught to take provincials and the win 2-1.
“It definitely wasn’t our best game of the year, but we did what we needed to do,” he said, praising the efforts of goalkeeper Young-Mercer as a contributing factor to the tournament win.
The Mariners had played the UBC Okanagan Heat in the semi-finals, winning 3 – 0 in what Stephens described as a spirited effort on both ends, which ultimately ended when the Mariners overwhelmed the Heat with pressure.
And Young-Mercer is also happy with the outcome of the event.
“The tournament went really well, our team played two very
tough games and earned the provincial championship,” said Young-Mercer.
Both of these players were also highly successful during the regular season. Young-Mercer ended his season with the best goals against average and the most recorded shutouts in the league.
Stephens received Pacwest player of the year, and first team all-star for the season along with the most valuable player at provincials.
“Individual awards are always a reflection of the team that a player plays for and that certainly is the case here,” Stephens said, explaining it’s easy to be a striker when you play with the best goalie, defence and midfield in the league.
The VIU Mariners went undefeated this season, with eight wins and three ties in league play, along with two wins during provincial playoffs.
Next for the team will be the The Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association’s national soccer championship, to be held at the Collège Francois-Xavier-Garneau in Quebec City, which starts tonight and runs until Nov. 12.
“Our team has put in all the hard work and is ready to battle it out to be the best team in the country,” Young-Mercer said.
Last year the Mariners, again with the help of Stephens and Young-Mercer, won nationals, beating out the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks in Edmonton.