The Cowichan 49ers got back to their winning ways on Friday, beating the Cordova Bay Bobcats 2-0 at Lochside Turf and keeping alive their hopes of winning a third consecutive masters soccer title.
Just like the previous week, the 49ers went into the game shorthanded, but unlike the previous week, their opponents were equally understaffed. Cordova Bay had to resort to putting an out player in goal, and while his technique was unorthodox, he managed to make some big saves, keeping the match scoreless through the first half.
“I thought it was an even game,” Cowichan head coach Kevin James said. “I thought we deserved to win, but it was by no means a dominating game by us.”
That follows the pattern set by previous meetings between the 49ers and the Bobcats.
“Every game we’ve played against them has been a one- or two-goal game,” James noted.
Darcy Penner scored what James called “the goal of the year” to put Cowichan ahead in the second half. Tyler Hughes took the ball down the left side, then sent a cross from around centre to Penner, who took it at full stride and unleashed a volley from about 25 or 30 yards out over the goalkeeper’s shoulder.
The teams continued to battle, and Cordova Bay caromed a shot off the crossbar. Eventually, the 49ers were able to add some insurance on an own goal by the Bobcats.
James expects the Niners to be short-staffed again this Saturday when they play host to third-place Gorge at the Sherman Road turf beginning at 6 p.m.
“Depending on who they bring, they can beat us if we don’t show up to play,” James commented.
Cowichan’s versatile players are comfortable playing different positions, and can also play whatever style of game Gorge brings, the coach pointed out.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who are skillful and grinders as well,” he said. “That’s a big thing for us. We don’t have one guy who’s afraid to roll up his sleeves.”
With three games left, The 49ers are three points back of UVic for first in the masters A division, but have a game in hand and currently hold the tiebreaker.
“We can get it done on our own end,” James said. “We’re not dependent on anybody else. We’re still able to put it on our shoulders, just do our thing and we can still win the league.”
In the masters B division, the Cowichan Steelheads lost 2-0 to Prospect Lake last weekend and will host Juan de Fuca Ghostfinger Alliance on Saturday at 8 p.m.