NANAIMO — University classes just began a few days ago and already the VIU soccer teams are playing important regular season matches this weekend.
The men and women will open at home Saturday against Langara and then welcome Douglas College on Sunday.
The men are hosting the nationals in November but coach Bill Merriman doesn't want his squad to think too far ahead, he wants them to work on improving day by day.
"We try to keep everybody focused, coaches included," said Merriman. We need to be ready for the PACWEST because it's going to be one of the toughest divisions in all of Canada."
With the women, Kevin Lindo has taken over the club from Anup Kang.
Lindo says he has some new ideas and systems but he's very happy with the team he's inherited - a side that won a provincial gold medal in 2016.
The new coach says he's a fan of playing attacking football.
"We have some really technical players who like to play the game in a positive way, and we also have some athletes in the program who compliment each other. We're looking to go out there and really dominate the opposition," said Lindo.
Preseason matches are hard to guage but both the men and the women had excellent records.
The men were 4-0-1 and outscored their opposition 20-4, and the Mariner women were 3-0 while outscoring the competition 21-1.
Merriman's squad did have two PACWEST opponents in exhibition play while Lindo's women did not.
Lindo says he's cautious not to read too much into those results.
"It's not ideal when the scores are lopsided. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the teams we played," said Lindo. "It's not great for evaluating a game, it can build confidence for sure. But we don't want complacency to creep in."
September is a tough month for the two VIU teams with four road matches after this home weekend.
Merriman says it puts some extra importance on the home games for the men's squad.
Lindo is looking at the upcoming road matches as a character test for the women.
The rookie coach will learn a lot about his players by the time October rolls around.
This weekend's kickoff times are at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Nanaimo Turf Field.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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