One week after their first loss of the 2017-18 Masters A soccer season, the Craig Street Brew Pub Cowichan 49ers got back in the win column with a hard-fought 2-1 road victory over a loaded UVic Alumni team on Friday.
The Masters A division is tight, but UVic appeared to be the team to beat going into the season after picking up a lot of players from the Saanich Fusion, who folded after tying Cowichan for first place in the league last year. Cowichan head coach Kevin James would have been satisfied to earn a tie on the road against UVic, so he was ecstatic to get the win.
“To get a point against UVic on the road means you’ve done well,” James commented. “Three points is even better. It was nice to get the three points; we needed them after the loss to Gorge.”
The teams were well-matched, James said, but Cowichan had a slight edge on UVic.
“It was an exciting game to watch,” he said. “It was a couple of teams fairly evenly matched on the pitch. It came down to our desire. We played hard, we played as a team, and that helped us get the result.”
UVic had an upper hand in the early going, but solid play by the Cowichan backfield and goalkeeper Rob McIntyre kept the game scoreless.
“The first 15 minutes, they carried more of the play than we did,” James said. “We were feeling things out and playing defensively.”
Things went back and forth until Cowichan’s Stu Barker opened the scoring. UVic responded when a shot went off the crossbar and bounced back in front of one of their players and he buried it. Cowichan picked up the pace after that, and went down the pitch, with Todd Vass finishing off the play with what turned out to be the decisive goal.
“They pressed us, but we held them off,” James said. “I was extremely happy with our work ethic. Defensively, all the guys stepped up to the plate. It was a solid team effort. I was really, really happy with the bounce-back performance.”
The 49ers played a McGavin Cup game on the road against Vic West’s Div. 2 team on Tuesday evening. Their next league game is set for Saturday as they play host to Nanaimo at 6 p.m. Cowichan beat Nanaimo 2-0 in the season opener.
“It should be another tough game,” James said. “Nanaimo is a solid team as well. It will depend on what bodies we have out. It will be a different game than up there. We beat them 2-0, but we struggled a bit on the grass.”