Goalkeeper Mark Village key to Pacific FC's late push

It takes a Village to raise a team, especially one as young as Pacific FC.

Goalkeeper Mark Village has been a steadying influence this season in tandem with Nolan Wirth.

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“I try to be a leader back there, especially with my voice,” said Village, who has even worn the captain’s armband this year in certain games.

Pacific FC is 3-1-3 in its last seven games, after a 0-3 start to the fall season (3-4-3).

“We have lots of young players but they have stepped up,” said Village. “They have had to grow up really fast. But if you’re good enough, you’re old enough in pro sports.”

PFC will surpass 10,000 minutes played by players 21-years-old and under tonight at 7 p.m. at Westhills Stadium against York9 (3-6-1 in the fall season). No other Canadian Premier League team even comes remotely close to matching that figure.

The other key to PFC’s recent rally has been health.

“Injuries hindered us and we’ve had to play catch-up for most of both the spring and fall seasons,” said Village.

“With getting healthy bodies back, especially top guys, has come momentum.”

Village and midfielder Zach Verhoven, meanwhile, have struck a blow for U Sports in a league full of players out of other pro leagues or the academies of pro teams. They, however, were in Canada West at different times. The 21-year-old Verhoven is a draft pick out of the UBC Thunderbirds, while the 27-year-old Village was a history major during his standout career for the University of Fraser Valley Cascades, bedevilling the University of Victoria Vikes time and again in Canada West play and also in the annual Keg Cup. Village readily admits he would now be a teacher if not for the opportunity to play pro soccer, first with FC Cincinnati, when it was in the USL before moving up to MLS this season.

“The CPL [in its inaugural season] has been huge for Canadian players,” said Village.

“A lot of talent out of U Sports or [MLS] academy programs has faded away because it previously had nowhere to go. Now that talent has an outlet to play pro soccer domestically in Canada.”

Village was coached by his dad coming up in Abbotsford.

“He just tossed me in the crease at age 10 and I loved it,” he said.

It proved a good move. Village idolized former Manchester United and Danish national team goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel while growing up, which greatly pleased Village’s Danish-ancestry mother.

As it turns out, PFC’s first coach in franchise history is former Danish international Michael Silberbauer.

“I don’t think I’ve mentioned that [Schmeichel being a role model] to him yet,” chuckled Village.

Not that it would influence Silberbauer’s decision. The Pacific FC bench boss went heavily with Village at the start of the season, then with Comox-product Wirth out the NCAA Pac-12 Oregon State Beavers when the Islander had a good mid-season stretch, before now going back to Village in recent games.

“We feel we have a good tandem going between myself and Nolan [Wirth],” said Village.

CORNER KICKS: York9 midfielder Ryan Telfer earned his first cap with Trinidad and Tobago last week in a 1-1 CONCACAF Nations League draw against Martinique. Telfer, on loan to York9 from Toronto FC, then scored his first international goal in Monday’s 2-2 draw in the second leg. Telfer’s status for tonight is not known, although it would be hard to imagine him being pressed into action at Westhills with the fatigue factor.

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