For the third year in a row, Ladysmith soccer star Chris Arnett will see provincial playoff action with the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team during the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST, formerly BCCAA) championships Oct. 28-30.
As last year’s national champions, the Mariners will have a bye in the first round, giving them an automatic berth into the semi-finals.
“I feel great and the team feels great because this is the third year in a row we’ve gone into provincials ranked number one in our conference,” he said. “The team is peaking at the right time in the season, and we keep improving with every game we have.”
That same team spirit lead the Mariners to National gold in 2010. The Mariners had tied up the game at the last minute and forced an overtime which left both teams scoreless. From there, the game went into sudden death penalty shoot. Arnett, who scored the winning shot, recalled what he says was a nerve-wracking experience.
“It was the scariest moment I’ve ever had in the game itself, that’s hands down,” he said, adding. “Most people would think it’s a totally solitary moment when you’re up there, but I felt like I had every one of my teammates standing behind me, so I had total confidence.”
The team has been keeping up their A-game through practices and individual efforts as they prepare to head to Kelowna for the provincial playoffs later this week.
“I’m totally confident in every player on the team, and that’s totally mutual. Everyone has great spirits and we all want to work hard and hopefully achieve what we did last year,” he said.
Soccer has been in Arnett’s blood for longer than he can remember.
“I’ve played soccer all my life and I love it, it’s my passion,” he said.
This season marks the centre mid-field’s fourth year with the Mariners. Among his accolades, he was a silver medalist and named all-Canadian all-star at the 2009 B.C. provincials.
Arnett, 21, is currently the only Ladysmith player for the Mariners men’s soccer team. Last season, the town was also represented by Robbie Cochrane, who was named national MVP. Due to an injury, however, Cochrane was unable to return this year.
“Whether we’re talking about this year’s team or last year’s team, he always deserves recognition,” Arnett said. “He’s just phenomenal.”
Arnett says he plans to suit up for the Mariners again next year during his final year of the physical education program. While he is unsure of where his career will take him next, Arnett is sure of one thing.
“I’ll be playing soccer, and I’ll be playing at the top level I can that I can play until the day I can’t use my legs anymore,” he said. “I’m just taking things one day at a time and if more comes, I’ll take it on.”