PACWEST soccer playoffs see Falcons out
Men's team falls to underdog Mariners
By LOUIS BERGERON
After a strong regular season, the Langara Falcons men’s soccer team ended their nationals hopes after a 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the first round of the PACWEST playoffs.
It was a successful season for the Falcons. Starting the first few games of the season with a series of losses and draws, the team led by long-tenured coach Marc Rizzardo rallied back to finish second in the PACWEST standings.
The highlight of the season was the improvement of winger David Rodriguez Zegarra.
“He’s had an outstanding three years here. He’s been very, very good for us and just gotten better and better,” said Rizzardo.
But the Peruvian winger didn’t come to Langara as good as he is now. Moving to Canada during the COVID pandemic put a hold on Zegarra’s soccer improvement.
“My first year I was actually a sub, I barely played,” Zegarra said.
This season, Zegarra scored seven goals in 11 games, making him the second most prolific scorer in the league.
His efforts this season landed him the PACWEST Player of the Year award.
“It wouldn’t be possible without my teammates. This is a team game, they gave me the opportunity to show myself,” Zegarra said.
The Falcons’ left-back Wizaso Chavula and midfielder Taku Ota were also named as PACWEST All-Stars alongside Zegarra.
Rizzardo was also named PACWEST Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his career.
With the accolades the team has collected this season, confidence was high within the Falcons camp going into the playoffs.
The PACWEST soccer tournament
The PACWEST playoff semi-finals were held over the weekend in Nanaimo at Vancouver Island University
In their match, the Falcons suffered from a penalty around the 20-minute mark and were unable to recover in time to tie the game.
“I thought the team played well most of the time and I’m disappointed,” said Rizzardo.
The Falcons found themselves on the receiving end of a penalty kick early in the game after the referee ruled there was contact between two Falcons defenders and the VIU attacker with the ball. Despite a valiant effort by goalkeeper Blake Charlesworth, the Falcons were powerless to prevent the VIU Mariners from scoring the winning goal.
“None of us agreed with the call,” said Rizzardo.
Rizzardo and his players said it looked as if the Mariners forward had fallen on his own due to no fault from any of the Falcons.
“It might have been a little bit questionable. He did handball it before the penalty happened,” said Connor Thompson, Langara Falcons defender.
On Sunday, the Douglas College Royals defeated the Mariners to claim the PACWEST playoffs finals. After a 1-1 tie in regular play, the Royals went on to beat the Mariners 5-4 in a penalty shootout.
The Langara Falcons women’s soccer team did not make their playoffs, finishing last place in their standings.