Stu Barker scored twice for the 49ers in their 3-1 win over Prospect Lake last Friday. (Citizen file)

Stu Barker scored twice for the 49ers in their 3-1 win over Prospect Lake last Friday. (Citizen file)

Cowichan 49ers outlast Prospect Lake in Tony Grover Cup quarterfinals

Defending champs on to semifinals

The Cowichan Craig Street 49ers moved another step closer to defending their Tony Grover Cup title with a 3-1 win over Prospect Lake in a quarterfinal match in Saanich last Friday.

Prospect Lake finished fourth in the Vancouver Island Soccer League Masters B division, but weren’t an easy team for the 49ers, who won the Masters A division, to conquer.

“They battled, they didn’t quit, the worked hard,” Cowichan coach Kevin James said. “I said to the guys at halftime, this isn’t gonna be one of those games where skill and finesse wins it; it’s gonna be whoever rolls their sleeves up and works the hardest is gonna win the game. It’s not that they didn’t work hard. Our guys just bought in. When we matched their grit, our skill prevailed. If we didn’t match their grit, the game could have gone the other way.”

Stu Barker opened the scoring in the second half when he volleyed in a cross off his thigh. Prospect Lake drew even on a free kick with less than 10 minutes left to play. According to James, Cowichan keeper Rob McIntyre didn’t have a chance to stop it.

“You couldn’t even see in that end of the pitch, it was so dark,” he said.

James rallied the troops at the break between regulation and overtime.

“I told the guys, whoever wants it more is gonna get the result,” he said. “The guys answered the bell, stepped it up and got the win.”

Darcy Kulai scored in the first overtime and Stu Barker scored again in the second.

“Once we scored the second goal in overtime, we were in total control,” James said. “That really took the wind out of their sails. It was pretty much the nail in the coffin when we scored the third goal.”

With several players unavailable for the game, Cowichan’s depth made a huge difference.

“Missing eight players, we were still able to put a competitive team on the field,” James said. “That says a lot about how deep our team is.”

The 49ers will face the Cordova Bay Bobcats in the semifinals this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Lochside Turf. The Bobcats finished first in the B division, and Cowichan won 2-0 when the teams met in late October.

“They’re a solid, young, fast team,” James said. “Playing on turf, I think if we step up to play, that will be more beneficial than playing on grass.

“They’re the underdogs, on paper. They have nothing to lose. If we take anything for granted, we’re going to get sunk.”

The winner of Saturday’s game will face the winner of the other semi between Gorge A and Vic West B in the Tony Grover Cup final.

Vic West put an end to the Masters B Cowichan Steelheads’ tournament, winning 2-1 at Finlayson last Saturday.

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