VIU Mariners pose in the snow with their CCAA silver medals (Submitted photo)

VIU Mariners pose in the snow with their CCAA silver medals (Submitted photo)

Ladysmith soccer talent played pivotal role in VIU Mariners’ season

Head coach Kevin Lindo says Ladysmith players added a ‘great dynamic’ to the team

The VIU Mariners Women’s soccer team brought home silver medals from the CCAA National Championships. The Mariners fell 3 – 0 to the Dynamiques de Sainte-Foy at a snowy match in Edmonton.

Prior to their CCAA showing, the Mariners won gold in the PACWEST division tournament, defeating the Capilano Blues, 6 – 1.

Throughout the season, the Mariners benefited in large part to contributions made by four Ladysmith players: Georgia Nicholls, Olivia Mazurenko, and Shea and Karen Battie.

“Those girls are great people, great role models, and really talented players. They’re dedicated to their team and the program, it’s been an absolute pleasure to coach them,” Mariners head coach Kevin Lindo said.

Lindo said the Ladysmith players add a great dynamic to the team. He’s looking at Ladysmith as a well of future talent for strong players.

Each of the Ladysmith players on this year’s team began playing when they were young. They all played on Ladysmith teams coached by Kathleen Nicholls, and Bill Merriman. Merriman is one of the coaches at the Merriman Clinic, and was the former head coach of the VIU men’s soccer team.

“Ladysmith has always been very supportive,” Georgia Nicholls said. “I had people message me when I was gone for nationals, from everywhere in Ladysmith. They were all messaging me, support us, watching us — it’s been pretty awesome.”

The four Ladysmith players have a tight knit bond. Not only do they share the same home town and a love of soccer, they also have a lifetime of playing soccer together.

“The girls are my best friends. I know there’s been so many connections made through all the girls that won’t ever diminish,” Karen Battie said.

“I’ve been playing with some of those girls since Grade 8, and now again in university,” Olivia Mazurenko said. “Everyone wanted to play at a higher level, we didn’t know where, but VIU was a good option. We all had built up friendships, so it was a lot less intimidating to go on the team.”

The Mariners are now in their off-season. Many of the players will join Nanaimo club teams to keep their soccer skills sharp. Coach Lindo is looking at recruiting a new crop of players to join the team, and has been attending games in Ladysmith to scout new talent.

Each of the players encouraged young Ladysmith soccer players to follow their passion, and see how far soccer can take them.

“University soccer is 100 percent an option,” Shea Battie said. “I had no idea when I was their age that it was even a thing. It’s definitely an option, and they can do it with the coaches we have in Ladysmith.”