The Cowichan 49ers edged past Vic West H2X 1-0 on the Sherman Road turf last Saturday evening as the second part of the Vancouver Island Soccer League masters season got underway.
Head coach Kevin James felt his team looked “flat” and “lethargic” in their first official A-division match of the campaign.
“It wasn’t our best game,” James said. “That’s for sure. We just couldn’t seem to get anything going. Those games are gonna happen.”
The 49ers found themselves down to 10 men after one of their players was handed a red card just 20 minutes into the match, adding to the team’s hardships.
“Going down a man when you’re not playing well is difficult,” James noted.
Last time the 49ers went down a man, James changed the formation, and the results weren’t good. This time, he stuck to the plan his team took into the match. While they didn’t blow Vic West out of the water, the 49ers did hold on long enough to get a goal from Stu Barker in the 65th minute, then weathered the storm from then on.
“In the last seven or eight minutes, we were getting tired,” James said. “They started to press.”
At that point, James did alter his formation, dropping a forward to midfield and a midfielder to defence, which helped Cowichan fend off the Vic West attack. Preston Johnny was called up from the masters B Cowichan Steelheads, and earned the shutout.
“All things considered, to play shorthanded that long and not give up a goal, I was very, very happy with the win,” James said. “I can’t complain about that.”
The 49ers and UVic Alumni, who played the first part of the season in different pools, are both 8-0 and tied for first in the A division, and will face off this Friday at the University of Victoria.
“It’s the biggest game of the year at this point,” James stated. “UVic is talented and deep. We’ve had their number the last year or so, but it’s a new season; last year was last year. They want to beat us. We have to bring our A game for sure. We need to play much better against UVic than we did against Vic West to get the win.”
The Steelheads played their first B-division match at the Sherman Road turf later on Saturday night, losing 1-0 to Lakehill Monkey Tree. With three wins, one draw and four losses, the Steelheads will visit Castaways Juniors at Victoria’s Central Park on Sunday.