Mariners fall to Highlanders in season finale

The Magnuson Ford Mariners wrapped up the Premier Development League soccer season with a 3-1 road loss to the Victoria Highlanders on Sunday afternoon.

The Magnuson Ford Mariners wrapped up the Premier Development League soccer season with a 3-1 road loss to the Victoria Highlanders on Sunday afternoon.

The Highlanders were a determined bunch, to be sure, needing at least a point to secure the Northwest Division’s second (and final) playoff berth.

Michael Marousek got the hosts off to a great start, opening the scoring five minutes in, and Jordie Hughes made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. Danfi Parker drew the Mariners to within a goal in the 29th, but Marousek restored the two-goal lead just two minutes later.

“When we pulled it back to 2-1, we made it interesting,” Mariners coach Ian Knight said. “But then we conceded another goal just minutes later, and I think that knocked the stuffing out of the guys a little bit.”

The Mariners finished the season with a 6-7-3 record, good for fifth in the Northwest. The Abbotsford club could take solace in a terrific second half – they went 4-2-1 down the stretch.

But the games that got away are the ones that stand out in Knight’s mind at this point. There was the 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps residency squad in the season opener on May 13, a game in which the Mariners out-chanced the Caps but struggled mightily to finish. On June 5, the Mariners fell 4-3 to the Tacoma Tide at Bateman Park after leading 2-0 early.

“So near, so far, I guess you could say,” Knight mused. “But we’re being able to compete with some of the big boys in the division.”