With four Comox Valley players in their lineup, the Vancouver Island University Mariners won the silver medal at the 2014 CCAA men’s soccer championships, held Nov. 5-8 at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.
The host Sheridan Bruins narrowly surpassed the Mariners in the final, a nail-biter that had the Bruins clinching the victory 5-4, winning 6-5 on penalties.
Playing for the Nanaimo VIU team were Black Creek’s Jordan de Graff (forward – G.P. Vanier), Comox’s Jeff Travis (defender – Highland), Courtenay’s Luke Phye (midfielder – G.P. Vanier) and Courtenay’s Nathan Ruston (defender – Highland).
In a constant back-and-forth battle that could have seen either side come ahead, the Bruins fought back from giving up late goals in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time and the 115th minute, maintaining composure through penalties and not missing a single marker from the spot.
Hundreds of people – including Canadian men’s national soccer head coach Benito Floro – braved the wet cold to observe the match, cheering loudly for each Bruin goal and falling silent for each of the VIU’s.
The game started with a bang, with a goal by VIU’s Victor Blasco in the seventh minute after the ref awarded a penalty kick following an ill-advised sliding tackle by a Bruins’ defender in the area.
Sheridan bounced back in the 32nd minute when Chris Di Vizio-Mendez scored off a one-touch from a beautiful ball threaded through the VIU defence by Raheem Edwards.
Edwards continued his production with a goal of his own in the 42nd minute with a header off a cross from Bruins’ captain David Velastegui.
Two consecutive goals in the 41st and 42nd minutes concluded the half, and the two teams found themselves even at two goals apiece.
The second half saw a revitalized and energetic Sheridan unit, led by Edwards who sent a ball across the area in the 73rd minute and found the foot of Khody Ellis who buried the team’s third goal.
The outlook was positive for Sheridan, but a penalty awarded to VIU in the 90th+4 minute gave the Mariners a breath of life after they converted from the spot to send the game into extra time.
A Sheridan goal in the 91st minute almost took them to the promised land, until a late VIU conversion in the 115th minute stunned the crowd and sentenced the game to be won on penalty kicks.
Each of the teams’ first five shooters found the back of the net, but VIU’s sixth shooter missed wide to the left. A conversion from Sheridan’s Di Vizio-Mendez sealed the deal for the Bruins.
– with a file from the CCA