It was a year to remember for Reid Davidson.
The 100 Mile House native was part of the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team that took home a silver medal in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Nationals on Nov. 9, after losing to the Durham Lords 3-2.
“It was such a really cool experience. I never thought I would be in such a big sporting event, especially coming from such a small town. Even at the start of the year - even after playing for the Mariners for a year - nobody had thought we would ever make it that far because the year before we were 1-9-2 in our conference.”
Davidson said it wasn’t really looking like the Mariners would get anywhere this season either, but something just clicked within the team and they became more of a unit, winning their, PACWEST, with a record of 7-3-2 in regular-season play.
“There was a point earlier in the season where we had lost to one of the worst teams in the league - it wasn’t a very good loss - but our captains kind of just threw us together and we just kept our heads focused and we knew that if we could play well for the rest of the season it would keep our heads strong and allow us to stay motivated. It was just the leadership that was shown from our captains this season that was really the turning point.”
Their biggest win came against the Douglas College Royals (based in New Westminster), which was a 5-1 result. Their biggest defeat was also against the Royals with a score of 2-0. The Royals would again beat the Mariners 1-0 in the final game of the season, allowing the Royals to win the PACWEST title, despite having fewer points in league play.
Despite the loss in the PACWEST final, the Mariners were allowed to continue on to the CCAA National Championship because the league received two berths, one of them being a wild card slot due to past performances of the league’s teams in past tournaments.
However, it was the Mariners who got the last laugh, placing second on the national stage after the 3-2 loss to Durham. Douglas Royals ended up in fourth place, losing to the Champlain College Saint-Lambert Cavaliers from Quebec.
“[We] probably played the best team we ever had to play against, which was Humber. They probably had two guys who could win CCAA player of the year. They just had skill across the board but we managed to fight it out and make it to a shootout and we ended coming up on top,” Davidson said about the semi-final game. “That experience is one of the best moments of my life and being able to celebrate with my team after that as well.”
As for the final, Davidson said the team was “super, super unlucky” not to win against the Durham Lord and a few of the players who would have graduated this year and would have left the team decided they will take one extra year just to come back and challenge for the national title again.
“Now that we’ve had that taste of blood, it’s pretty much nationals or bust for us,” said Davidson, who hopes to take on a bigger role on and off the field next year as a third-year player.
Studying sports and recreation management, Davidson’s first year on the team was as a red shirt, meaning he was allowed to practice and dress for play but couldn’t actually compete in games and had a limited role within the team’s structure. Usually, this is used to increase the eligibility of the player within U Sports (Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA) and the CCAA.
After making his debut last season, Davidson has been steadily working himself into the lineup and with some players leaving after graduation, he could be in a starting position on either the left or right side of the pitch as a fullback.
“Personally, I think I’ve grown as a player. My role on the team has stayed pretty well the same. I contribute when I can. I do what’s best for the team and I’m just there to be a positive influence on the younger players, as well as continuing to learn and grow the successful team that we’re going to have going forward as well.”