The Cowichan 49ers big guns were firing as the masters soccer team moved closer to securing a second consecutive Vancouver Island Soccer League masters title.
Cowichan beat Vic West 4-1 at Finlayson Park on Saturday night, keeping their record even with UVic Alumni and adding to their goal-differential, which will be the tiebreaker.
Strikers Neall (Rocket) Rowlings and Stu Barker each scored two goals against Vic West, Rowlings at 20 and 23 minutes, and Barker at 75 and 80 minutes. Vic West’s lone goal game in the 70th minute.
“They both played very well,” Cowichan head coach Kevin James said of his two top scorers. “Stu has been fighting getting a goal. He’s been snake-bit the last few games. It was a relief, for him, to get a couple of goals and get that monkey off his back. It wasn’t there in our eyes, but he felt it.”
For the most part, James liked what he saw from the team.
“We played well,” he said. “We had some moments where we lacked a bit of organizing, maybe a bit of energy. I’ll take responsibility for not getting the guys in the right mindset. Overall I was happy with the result on the road. It was a great example of a team win.”
The 49ers travelled with a luxuriously deep squad of 18 players and one goalkeeper.
“Every player got on the pitch and contributed in some way,” James said. “To have all the guys contributing is pretty impressive.”
UVic Alumni also won 2-1 over Gorge on the weekend, so the top two teams have identical records of 15 wins and one loss. The 49ers, though, increased their lead in goal-differential from one a week ago to three. Both teams have one league game left: Cowichan will face Saanich FC Forest and UVic will play Vic West.
“It’s going to come down to the last game,” James noted.
The 49ers will play host to the Cordova Bay Bobcats in a Tony Grover Cup quarter-final match at the Sherman Road turf this Saturday at 6 p.m. The two-time defending cup champs, Cowichan has never lost a match to the Bobcats, but the games are always close.
“For us to accomplish the goals we set at the start of the season [league, cup and provincial titles], we have to win every game from here on in,” James said. “We’ve got our hands full.”