Royals fare well at PACWEST provincials; men’s team qualifies for nationals
By Michael Sopow, Sports Reporter
The Douglas College Royals men’s and women’s soccer teams both had respectable ends to their 2014/15 regular seasons before they began the exhilarating and nerve-racking transition to the PACWEST Provincial Championships.
The women, who notably began the year with an impressive 5-0 record, concluded their regular season second only to the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners, short by just a three-point deficit. Nicolle Fraser, Danae Harding, and Marni McMillan—three dangerous offensive players throughout the season—were named Conference All-Stars; McMillan was deservingly named Player of the Year.
“I am incredibly proud of the team’s efforts,” said Chris Laxton, head coach of the women’s team. “They showed up at every session ready to work and ready to learn. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Additionally, Douglas’ men’s team also finished their regular season in second place behind the Mariners. Douglas’ team was led by Spencer Deboice and Mark Baldisimo—two of the league’s top scorers—and Devin Phelan, a key defensive contributor. They were named to the Conference All-Star team for their efforts.
The women’s team had an overall strong showing at the PACWEST provincials. They played their first game against the Langara Falcons and seemed to have “a very nervous first half,” according to Laxton. “Other than Nicolle hitting the crossbar and a great save by Rebecca [Mainardi], there weren’t too many chances.
“We got stronger and stronger in the second and really controlled the match.”
Langara then scored a highly controversial goal, which took the game into extra time, where Langara ended up winning the match 2-1. “We created chances but couldn’t convert. It was a very disappointing way to lose,” said Laxton.
The women’s second game—the match deciding the bronze medal—had a more positive progression. “Douglas College dominated the first 30 minutes of each half,” said Laxton. “Our goal came in the 15th minute from Marni from a free kick that she had won. They scored in the 75th minute on a breakaway. We played some excellent attacking soccer but did not capitalize. The match went straight to penalties, where we won 5-4 after six shooters each. We shot first and Rebecca made the decisive save on their sixth shooter. It was the final match for the Melvins, who will be greatly missed on the pitch.”
The men’s team successfully qualified for the gold medal match and a trip to nationals with a 2-0 semi-final win against the Kwantlen Eagles. The game was an equally fought battle with neither team being able to score throughout the first 90-minutes of the match, taking the game into overtime.
However, late into the first half of overtime, the Royals managed to capitalize, giving Douglas College a 1-0 lead over the Eagles and a noticeable boost of motivation. The second half of overtime proceeded and Kwantlen was in desperate need of a goal. They attempted to fight their way to an equalizer, but near the ending moments of the second overtime, Douglas scored an insurance goal and took the victory.
In the gold medal game, the Royals faced the daunting first seed, VIU. The game was composed of intense and fierce competition, both teams striving to take home the provincial championship and the gold medal. The Royals were valiant in their efforts, expressed on the field as they managed to score take the lead 1-0.
However, the Mariners’ offence managed to equalize the score in the second half of the match and drag the game into extra time. Having both thesecond- and first-placed teams in a heated battle for the championship and the gold, extra time could not do the game justice. The match proceeded into penalties, where Douglas College returned triumphant as the new provincial champions.