Twins put best foot forward

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Niko and Yianni Mavrikos may not look like twins, but in just about everything else they say and do, they fulfill the blueprint to exact requirements.

The first-year Western Mustang soccer players are indeed twins. Yianni is a little taller and stockier and has dark, wavy hair. Niko is shorter with curly, lighter hair.

But that's where the differences end.

The Victoria, B.C., natives have done just about everything together. Throughout their 18 years they have played on the same sports teams, looked after each other on the playing field and have moved almost five provinces from home to attend the same school, take the same business courses and once again play on the same team.

Not surprisingly, they arrive for practice together.

Western soccer coach Rock Basacco can thank the Mavrikos family for doing their part in restocking his traditionally strong program.

"We live in residence but we don't live together," Niko said.

"We live across the hall from each other," Yianni said.

Yes, they have a tendency to finish each other's sentences.

Oh yeah, they also mentioned there is a third Mavrikos. That makes the twins . . . triplets. And yes, sister Ria is also at Western taking . . . you guessed it, business.

Ria opted not to play sports this year.

"But she's quite a good athlete," Niko said. "She plays hockey with us, basketball."

"She may try out for the basketball team next year," Yianni said.

The Mavrikoses are good players. Their high school won the B.C. championship and their club side made it to the British Columbia Cup, the equivalent of the Ontario Cup.

They are also well spoken, nice individuals who will be a credit to the Western soccer program.

"They're good players," Basacco said. "Right now, they are coming off the bench because we have a lot of experienced players but they'll get time on the field."

Basacco has 16 returning players, including striker Michel Daoust, one of the top strikers in Ontario, and Paul Arnold, a top striker who came from Waterloo. Basacco also has 10 newcomers on his roster.

"We have a nice mix of players," Basacco said. "We're having trouble scoring goals right now but and we'll be working on that this week but I think we're going to have a good defence."

Niko is a striker while Yianni is a midfielder. Both have already scored a goal, one in an exhibition game and the other in tournament play.

As expected, the pair seems to have a connection on the pitch as well as off it.

"We get mad at each other more than the other guys," Niko said. "But it helps he knows where I am and I know where he is."

"For some reason the ball kind of finds him more than the other guys because I always know what kind of run he makes so it definitely helps," Yianni said.

The short time the pair has spent at Western has been everything they expected it would be. They are satisfied to be coming off the bench.

"We knew we'd be on the bench," Yianni said. "This is an experienced squad. When we get minutes, we're just happy to get in, and we try to make a contribution when we can.

Brotherly love does carry over onto the field. They admit to sticking up for each other on the field but they've learned to control those emotions.

Now for the real testing question . . . who is the better player?

"No way," Yianni answered.

"We're probably exactly the same," Niko said. "He's probably better at rugby and basketball than me."

"Naw," Yianni said.

It wouldn't be unusual for twins to want time away from each other. The Mavrikos gave it some thought . . . barely.

"There was a time when we thought maybe we ought to go to different schools," Yianni said. "We thought about it for a week and then thought naw, we might as well go go the same school. We've been doing it all our lives. We might as well stick together."


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