The Cowichan 49ers got revenge for some stolen points earlier in the Vancouver Island Soccer League season when they defeated Vic West 2-0 in a Tony Grover Cup match at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday.
When the teams met in mid-December, Vic West showed up with only nine players, but still pushed the Niners to a 1-1 tie thanks to a lot of grit and some solid goalkeeping. Ties can’t happen in a cup match, of course, but the 49ers made sure the game didn’t go to extra time or penalty kicks by putting Vic West away in regular time.
The three-time defending Tony Grover Cup champs are playing their best soccer of the season, and might even be at a higher level than they have been in their previous runs.
“In past seasons, the 49ers have peaked early and then ran into injuries and lower numbers in cup and provincial time,” player-manager Neall Rowlings pointed out. “This year, however, our numbers are improving and our team is starting to gel now while it matters most.”
Matt Arnett opened the scoring when he calmly slotted the ball home in the 12th minute. The second goal came soon after on what was recorded as an own goal off a cross by Tyler Hughes. Jeff Mann, formerly an emergency goalkeeper but now firmly ensconced in the role, stepped up with his second consecutive shutout in cup play.
“He shows up so jacked up to produce good results,” Rowlings commented. “He is a 49er through and through.”
The 49ers will face FC Vic West 45s in a Grover Cup quarter-final match on the Sherman Road turf this Saturday at 6 p.m. This Vic West team plays in the masters B division, but the Niners aren’t underestimating them.
“Our old superstar David Tuckey plays for this team, and he will likely have the best hairdo on the field,” Rowlings commented. “However as I quoted earlier, to take this Grover from our hands it is going to take an exceptional effort.”
Already out of Grover Cup competition, the Cowichan Steelheads had last weekend off and will be idle again this weekend. Both Cowichan masters teams have one league game remaining, both scheduled for March 7.