Mariners set sail on new PDL soccer season

Every season, Abbotsford’s Premier Development League soccer squad goes in knowing they’re somewhat out-gunned from the get-go.

Mariners goalie Mark Village lunges to make a save on Solomon Gold of the Washington Crossfire on Saturday at Bateman Park. The Mariners and Crossfire battled to a 1-1 draw.

Mariners goalie Mark Village lunges to make a save on Solomon Gold of the Washington Crossfire on Saturday at Bateman Park. The Mariners and Crossfire battled to a 1-1 draw.

Every season, Abbotsford’s Premier Development League soccer squad goes in knowing they’re somewhat out-gunned from the get-go.

Many of their foes in the PDL’s Northwest Division boast bountiful resources – the division features a trio of Major League Soccer U23 sides (representing the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders), along with deep-pocketed clubs like the Kitsap Pumas and Victoria Highlanders.

Fraser Valley Mariners FC, meanwhile, forges ahead with a roster of local university players. And while they know they’re underdogs, they relish the challenge.

“It’s not a fair playing field that way, but we know that going in,” said Alan Errington, the UFV men’s coach who is also on the Mariners’ coaching staff.

“It’s about the development of the players, rather than trying to go in and be top dog. We obviously want to win everything . . . but players come out better because of the experience.”

After opening the season with blowout losses on the road to Kitsap and Portland, the Mariners turned in a pair of competitive performances at Bateman Park on the weekend.

The locals picked up their first point of the season on Saturday, as they battled the Washington Crossfire to a 1-1 draw. Ethan Claibourne-Collins supplied the Mariners’ goal.

On Sunday, the hosts suffered what Errington termed a “heartbreaking” 2-1 defeat to the North Sound SeaWolves. The Mariners led 1-0 at halftime on Adrian Kekec’s goal, and could have had a couple more with a little better finish.

But the SeaWolves rallied after the break, tying the game on a controversial penalty kick call and then getting the game-winner moments before the whistle sounded to end the game.

“We could have buried them in the first half,” Errington lamented. “In the end, it’s disappointing.”

• The Mariners (0-3-1) play the Whitecaps U23s on the road Wednesday. They return to Bateman Park on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tilt with the Sounders U23s.