Jeff Mann takes the ball out of the Cowichan 49ers’ end during last weekend’s game against Castaways Juniors. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

49ers and Steelheads open soccer season with victories

Cowichan masters teams off to great start

Both of Cowichan masters men’s teams kicked off the Vancouver Island Soccer League season with victories last weekend.

The defending league champion Cowichan 49ers defeated Castaways Junior 3-1 at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday evening, and the Cowichan Steelheads prevailed 1-0 over the Cordova Bay Bobcats at Lochside Turf on Friday.

The 49ers went into the match with 14 players, all of whom got significant playing time, some in unfamiliar roles.

“We had a lot of bodies away, and a lot of guys playing in different positions than they are used to,” coach Kevin James said. “There was a lot of rust on the field.”

Two players found themselves in the Niners’ centre midfield for the first time: new addition Mike Minckler and veteran Ryan Fusick, who typically plays outside mid, and both had solid outings, with Fusick scoring around 50 minutes and Minckler around 80 minutes. Striker Stu Barker opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes, and Cowichan held off Castaways until stoppage time.

“It was disappointing to concede a goal that late,” James admitted. “But I was happy overall with how we played.”

Next up, the 49ers will visit Lakehill at Saanich’s Braefoot Park on Saturday evening.

The Steelheads got their goal from Marshall Wilkins as they opened the season with a win over the Bobcats. The Steelheads will play their home opener this Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Sherman Road turf.

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