After his team’s first loss of the Vancouver Island Soccer League season, Cowichan LMG head coach Glen Martin was pointing the finger of blame squarely at himself.
“It was the worst coaching game I’ve ever had,” he confessed. “We weren’t prepared. We weren’t motivated. Our offensive formation didn’t work, and I didn’t change it. We pushed for the win on the road instead of the tie. This one’s on me.”
Cowichan was beaten 2-1 by struggling Gorge FC at Hampton Park last Friday, dropping their record to 11 wins, one loss and two ties.
Just a day earlier, the team had 20 players out to their first training session at the new Williams Field turf on Sherman Road, but looking back, Martin feels he didn’t use that session wisely.
“Ninety per cent of the team made the training sessions,” he noted. “But we didn’t work on anything for the game. We didn’t go over the game plan; we didn’t work on defending corner kicks.”
Not practicing corner kicks, in particular, came back to haunt the team. The decisive goal was scored on the last play of the game — a corner kick.
“Everybody knew it was the last play of the game,” Martin said. “The ref knew, the players knew, the The defeat marked the first time in seven years that Cowichan had lost to a team in the bottom half of the league, which weighed heavily on Martin.
“This bothers me more than losing in the provincial semifinals last year,” he said.
The game marked the LMG debut and first-ever senior game for 17-year-old goalkeeper Nate White, who was filling in for the injured Sam Hutchison. None of the blame for the loss could be placed at the feet of the goalie, Martin insisted.
“He played unbelievably,” the coach said. “He made some great saves. He was up to the task. Neither of the goals were any fault of his.”
Though no fault of White’s, Martin said the opening goal was “the worst goal [he had] ever seen.” White had the ball in a goal kick situation, but decided to send a slow-roller to a defender instead. He could have played the ball back to White for a re-kick, but decided to wait for it to come out of the 18. Former Cowichan player Kevin Jones came in and stripped the ball from Barry, firing it at the Cowichan net. White made the initial save, but Cam Stokes was there to bury the rebound.
“We were off to a terrible start 10 minutes in,” Martin said. “We basically spotted them a goal.”
Gorge was up 1-0 at the half, but Cowichan tied the score 30 seconds into the second half, which may have done more harm than good.
“The guys were thinking, ‘It’s 1-1; we’re gonna get them now,’” Martin said.
Cowichan shooters hit the post three times, causing further frustration.
“We weren’t clinical in finishing and had a bit of bad luck,” Martin said.
Still hoping to salvage a victory rather than just live with a draw, Martin brought in two non-defensive wingers with his last two substitutions, a move he would later regret.
“We gambled to win the game, but we should have settled for a tie,” he said.
With the defeat now in the rearview mirror, all Martin can hope for is that his team can learn something from it and prepare better for next time.
“We bring out the best in other teams,” he said. “We should know better.”
Still in first place in Div. 1, Cowichan now holds a six-point lead on the next two teams, Comox and Saanich, both of whom won their games last weekend in the final minute of play. The team has a break until Jan. 16, when they resume the season on the road against Nanaimo. The first game on the new turf is set for Jan. 23.