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Comox-raised soccer keeper returns to professional ranks

Nolan Wirth signs with Pacific FC

Nolan Wirth of Comox has signed a professional contract with Pacific FC, a Victoria-based soccer team that will compete in the newly-formed Canadian Premier League.

The 24-year-old goalkeeper who stands 6’1” is the first Islander to sign with the team, which plays its first match April 28 in Langford against the Halifax Wanderers FC.

“So coast to coast,” said Wirth, who returned to Vancouver Island last year to play with the Victoria Highlanders Football Club, which competes in the USL League Two, a ‘pre-professional’ league. “It’s good to be back in a professional environment, and a professional league.”

Wirth’s soccer career started with the Comox Valley United Soccer Club. He represented B.C. with U15 and U16 squads, tended goal for Canada’s U18 and U20 teams, attended the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program during high school, and spent three seasons with the Oregon State University Beavers in Division 1 of the NCAA.

“It’s where the MLS (Major League Soccer) get their draft players from, so around some pretty good talent,” he said.

Wirth had spent three years training daily with a goalkeeper coach during his time with the Whitecaps before moving onto OSU. His next stop was Arizona, where he was a member of the Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League. His teammates included the likes of former English Premier League stars Didier Drogba and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

“I learned a lot down there,” he said.

Wirth’s new teammates are scheduled to join him in Victoria on Friday, March 1.

Pacific FC is one of seven teams in the CPL. The inaugural season will consist of 14 home games and 14 road matches.

“Growing up I always wanted to play for my hometown,” Wirth said, thinking the closest location would be Vancouver. “But the fact that you’re actually on the Island, and there’s a professional team here. It’s massive.”