Cascades stars O’Neill, Village in camp with Whitecaps FC 2

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Mark Village (left) and Colton O’Neill of the Cascades are in camp this week with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.

A pair of University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer players are getting a taste of the professional game with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.

Right back Colton O’Neill and goalkeeper Mark Village are part of the 28-man preseason camp roster for the Whitecaps’ new United Soccer Leagues (USL) squad, which has been established to serve as a bridge between the club’s youth residency program and its MLS first team. The team began training this week at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.

“They’re both very good players,” Cascades head coach Alan Errington said of O’Neill and Village. “Colton, I think he’s one of the best players in the CIS. I think the Whitecaps have seen something in him, and hopefully it progresses from there.

“Village is finished his years at the university level, and he was one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Hopefully he can impress with the Whitecaps.”

The Whitecaps are quite familiar with O’Neill – he’s been part of their U23 Premier Development League side in years past. He’s coming off a fantastic 2014 campaign with the Cascades which saw him lead the squad with five goals and three assists, and earn Canada West first team all-star honours.

Village recently completed his fifth and final season of eligibility with the Cascades, and was one of the top keepers in Canada West during his time on campus. In 2012, he was recognized as a second team conference all-star.

“It’s been an absolute blast,” Village said, reflecting on his experience this week with Whitecaps FC 2. “Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect. I wanted to go out there and have some fun, because who knows how long you last in those types of environments? And I’ve been successful so far.”

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