Digging deep and getting some unexpected performances from their players, the Cowichan 49ers kept their destiny in their own hands by eking out a 2-1 win over Gorge FC at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday evening.
Like many teams in the Vancouver Island Soccer League masters division, the 49ers are battling plenty of injuries at this point in the season. The available players stepped up on Saturday, some into unfamiliar roles, and some playing their first games in a while as they came back from their own injuries.
“Guys dug deep and we were able to get three points and get closer to defending our title,” Cowichan head coach Kevin James said.
Usually a position player, Chad Bastion found himself playing goal on Saturday and did what he needed to do. Gorge’s one goal went in off the crossbar, and the Victoria team also missed on a late penalty shot.
“It was a big game for him to step into,” said James, a former keeper himself. “It was very unorthodox goalkeeping, but he made three or four big saves and he was our man of the match.”
Cowichan’s goals were scored by Brad Thorne at 34 minutes and Neall Rowlings at 67 minutes.
“It was a really good game between two teams that battled hard,” James said. “They had opportunities to score, and we had a lot of opportunities.”
The 49ers and UVic Alumni are tied atop the masters A standings with 14 wins and one loss, but Cowichan holds the tiebreaker, just one goal better in terms of goal differential. Both teams have two league games left.
“We’re just worried about ourselves right now,” James said. “We’re OK as long as we keep getting wins.”
Cowichan is set to play SFFC Forest at home this Saturday at 6 p.m. Saanich is in last place in the A division with five wins and 11 losses, but James believes they are better than their record suggests.
“They’re a team that’s been snake-bitten,” he said. “They’ve been short-staffed from time to time. Even though they’re at the bottom of the table, they’ve been in most of their games.”
The masters B Cowichan Steelheads picked up a 1-0 win over JDF Ghostfinger Alliance at home on Saturday night. Now third in their division with two games left, the Steelheads are scheduled to play at home against Fernwood this coming Saturday at 8 p.m.