Some of the best postsecondary soccer players and teams in the province are set to descend on Squamish for the first time ever at the Pacwest Soccer Provincials, taking place from Friday to Sunday (Oct. 26 to 28).
And Quest University wants the entire community to come check out the fast-paced action.
Quest men’s soccer head coach Jonas Worth, one of the tournament directors, said Kermodes fans will notice the step up in competition when the best of the Pacwest come to town.
“The games will probably even be better than watching Quest play a Douglas or VIU,” he said, laughing. “I’m willing to admit that. Those two teams are by far the best in the province and it should be a real treat to see them go up against each other.”
The top four men’s and women’s teams based on Pacwest regular-season play will hit the Quest University pitch with the top-ranked team playing the fourth-ranked team and No. 2 taking on No. 3. The winners will advance to the gold medal game, while the losers will duke it out for the bronze.
One of the more interesting local storylines is the No. 3-ranked Quest University women’s team, who will have home-field advantage all weekend.
“Home advantage will be massive for them,” Worth said. “In terms of a player’s routine, there are things you cannot control on the road. Whether it’s the field, a breakfast routine or even sleeping in your own bed as opposed to a hotel room, it should be huge for the girls.”
The Kermodes will take on the UBC-Okanagan Heat in the tournament’s opening game on Friday, followed by TRU taking on Langara. Worth said he thinks the women’s tourney could be wide open.
“On the women’s side, I think there are more standout players and they make more of a difference than the men,” he said. “Even if one team is dominant, there are a few game changers that can turn the game on its head.”
Worth pointed to players like the twins Chelsea and Amelia Brown from Langara, TRU’s Alanna Bekkering and Quest’s trio of Mari Tarleton, Jamey Horth and Becky Schile as individuals that can impact games in a flash.
“The rankings can be misleading,” he said, noting that last year Quest played the top seed TRU to a shootout in the playoffs. “It’s anybody’s ballgame, but I wouldn’t want to be a gambler on the women’s side.”
He said the men’s side should be a little more predictable, with Douglas College and VIU as the two favourites. The men’s action kicks off on Saturday (Oct. 27), with Douglas taking on Kwantlen and VIU battling TRU.
Douglas lost only one game all year and Worth leaned toward the Royals as a strong choice to win it all.
“What Douglas and VIU do particularly well is that they balance a level of physicality with a technical ability that allows them to manipulate other teams’ weaknesses,” he said. “In the case of Douglas, I think it comes down to the experience of that team; they’re very mature. VIU is very much the same way, they can be everywhere on the field and their wide play against us was fantastic. Both teams take advantage of weaknesses and that’s what sets them apart.”
Worth noted that Douglas beat VIU 3-2 in the two teams’ last meeting on Oct. 14 and pointed out that Douglas will also host the nationals in November.
“I’d give the slight edge to Douglas just because of their ability to play on turf and to play the ball on the ground,” he said. “Douglas might be able to adapt a little better to our field.”
The set-up for the tournament will be different than what Kermodes fans are used to, with temporary stands set up in front of the tennis courts on the east side of the field. General admission is $5 per day but Squamish Youth Soccer Association (SYSA) players wearing their jersey or jacket will be admitted for free. SYSA players will also be involved in the opening game ceremonies by escorting teams out to the pitch.
Worth said it’s a great chance to show how big of a soccer town Squamish truly is.
It all gets underway on Friday at 4:30 p.m., with the Quest Kermodes women’s team taking on the UBC-O Heat. For complete details on the tournament, visit www.pacwestbc.ca/soccer2012.