Glen Martin’s 200th win as a Div. 1 men’s soccer coach was a satisfying one.
Coming in his 14th season at the helm of Cowichan’s top team, the victory came over a key Vancouver Island Soccer League rival, was a huge result in the standings, and his team’s first game in several weeks.
“It was one of the happier ones,” Martin said of Cowichan’s 2-1 win over the Mid Isle Mariners at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday afternoon. “I liked that one. The 200th felt really good.”
Beyond just being an important game in the standings and a battle with a big rival, the contest also felt like a cup game because of the unfamiliar officiating crew. The referee and two of the other three officials had been brought over from Vancouver for the match and were being assessed by the league.
“It’s a crossover thing,” Martin explained. “I guess they’re giving them a different perspective. Maybe it’s easier to assess a guy with players they’ve never seen before.”
Cowichan started the game well, something they had been working on prior to the winter layoff.
“Before the break, we had talked about how we had so start games better,” Martin commented.
It paid off when Jordan Korven scored just three minutes in on a corner kick from Craig Gorman.
“It was a good start,” Martin said. “We had a very high-energy, aggressive start to the game, which is something we hadn’t been doing the last few games.”
Unfortunately, that goal also woke up the Mariners, who picked up their play for the remainder of the half.
“For the most part, I’d give the first half to them,” Martin said.
Goalkeeper Darian Achurch, Cowichan’s eventual Man of the Match, made several big saves on point-blank shots from just a few feet away but was eventually beaten in the 37th minute after an error by the Cowichan defence.
Martin was happy to make it out of the first half tied at one apiece, and kept his lineup the same, while Mid Isle made five subs even though they appeared to have the momentum.
Gorman put Cowichan ahead on a penalty shot early in the second half after Igor Liah was taken down in the box, Gorman’s fourth game-winner in six games since his return to Cowichan. The team held on to that lead for the rest of the match.
“Overall, in the second half we played quite well,” Martin said. “We created chances and didn’t give them many chances.”
Cowichan played the match without midfielder Kevan Brown, who was suspended for receiving his third yellow card of the season, but veterans like Keevan Webb and Steve Scott stepped up in his place.
Only three points separate the top five teams in Div. 1, any of whom could win the league title.
“Whoever is in fifth now could end up first,” Martin said. “And whoever is first could end up fifth.”
Cowichan, the defending league champions, are second with 27 points, one back of first-place Lakehill, with two games in hand. The team has six games left, including four against teams in the top five.
“We’re all intertwined,” Martin noted. “No one’s got an easier go. All five teams pretty much have the same schedule. It could come down to the last game.”
Cowichan will visit seventh-place Vic West this Saturday.