All good things must come to an end. For Royston’s Samantha Rodgers, a great thing came to an end on Oct. 31 when she helped guide the Vancouver Island University Mariners women’s soccer team to a silver medal at the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) provincial championships.
In her fifth and final season with the Nanaimo-based team, Rodgers was named Top Defender at the four-team tournament, held in Burnaby. The defending PACWEST champion and #2 seed Mariners defeated Quest Kermodes 1-0 in the Friday semifinals then fell 2-0 to the top-ranked Douglas College Royals on Saturday. Rodgers was tourney MVP when VIU won the title in 2014.
It was a bitter-sweet ending to her stellar university career. “I am still a little stunned the season is over. My five years at VIU have had many highs and lows with soccer and school. This past season was the fastest one yet and felt unbelievably quick, and that is saying a lot as I have gotten used to the quick two-three month season these past five years,” the G.P. Vanier grad said.
“Going into the provincials this year it was hard for me, knowing the amazing feeling of winning provincials last year as well as the possibility that I could be playing the last games of my university career,” Rodgers said. “Also, I was shocked to receive the defender of the tournament this year as well as the MVP last year. I wouldn’t be half the player I am without the amazing players, coaches and family on and off the field around me.”
One of those players is her sister Katie who is in her third year with the Mariners women’s soccer team. “(She) has been a huge supporter throughout my university career as well as this year,” Rodgers said. As for other family, they were out in force in Burnaby.
“My parents Mike and Tammy, brother Austin and our current exchange student from Germany, Sebastian, made it to the tourney. I have been so thankful of the support from my family throughout my life as well as through university. They have always been my #1 fans and I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” the Nursing program student said, adding, “I consider my teammates past and present as part of that family and support system too.”
While her provincial MVP and Top Defender honours were a shock for Rodgers, they were much less of a surprise to VIU head coach Anup Kang.
“Samantha has been a starter for us from day one. She was our captain for two years, and over the five years Sam has consistently been one of the top players in PACWEST conference.
“She has been a perfect role model for our community and with her hard work, she’s been a great example for our younger players. It will be very difficult to replace Sam as she’s set the bar so high. She deserves all the accolades.”
Those accolades include: three-time league all star, two-time academic All Canadian, 2014 PACWEST regular season winner, provincial champ and national semifinalist, and 2015 PACWEST provincial silver medallist.
Looking ahead, Rodgers says, “I plan on nursing in Nanaimo for a couple years, then travelling. But I am also considering possibly pursuing my soccer further, so it is a little up in the air at the moment.”
Along with her time in the Comox Valley United Soccer Club, Rodgers played youth soccer in Nanaimo and Campbell River.