Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer coach Larry Stefanek was named the Pacific Western Athletic Association’s coach of the year.
He would have loved to add a championship trophy to go along with the honour but unfortunately for Stefanek, who also coaches and teaches at Ballenas Secondary in Parksville, the Mariners narrowly lost to Douglas College Royals 1-0 in the gold medal final of the PacWest Championships that was hosted by Langara College in Burnaby Lake turf fields over the weekend.
The Mariners, who also has former Ballenas Secondary player Cole Senchar playing in defence, were the top seeds in the PacWest championship.
It was a closely contested final with the game going back and forth. It was a scoreless first half but in the second, it was the Royals that netted the only goal of the game, scored by Yianni Siafakas.
The loss might have been a bitter one for the Mariners but they still have a chance to redeem themselves as they were given a wild card berth in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s National Championships on Nov. 6 in Durnham, Ont.
The Mariners won national gold two years ago.
Meanwhile, the Mariners women stopped the Capilano Blues 6-1 to successfully defend their PacWest title. They also will be heading to the national championships. It’s their fourth PacWest gold since 2014.
Kate Reynolds and Chloe Gummer scored in the first 20 minutes, Shea Battie scored a pair and Saki Meshida and Olivia Mazurenko also found the back of the net. Melanie Osborne made six saves in goal.
Meshida was chosen tournament MVP, Osborne was top goalkeeper, Cara Dunlop was top defender and Battie was top midfielder.
Another Ballenas soccer product Larissa Stefanek also played in defence for the Mariners women’s team at the PacWest final.
The Mariners will be B.C.’s only representative at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Edmonton from Nov. 6-9, where they’ll try to do improve on their fifth-place finish from a year ago.
— NEWS Staff, with a file from Greg Sakaki, Nanaimo Bulletin