The Cowichan Craig Street 49ers knew going into Saturday night’s Tony Grover Cup quarter-final showdown that they were in for a tough game against the visiting Cordova Bay Bobcats.
Although the Bobcats have never beaten Cowichan in league or cup competition, they’ve always been a tough test for the two-time defending Tony Grover Cup champion 49ers, and the same could be said about the most recent match, won once again by Cowichan, this time by a 2-0 final score.
“It was a good game,” Cowichan head coach Kevin James said. “It was pretty much everything we expected it to be.
“It was a typical battle with Cordova Bay. We worked hard. They worked hard. We finished on two of our chances. Their goalkeeper was the Man of the Match for sure; he made two or three big saves to keep us in. The wind would have been out of their sails a lot earlier if not for him. He did his job, for sure.”
Although the 49ers scored the first goal early on, it wasn’t until the 82nd minute that they beat the Cordova keeper again, on a looping penalty kick by Tyler Hughes from about 25 yards out.
Neall (Rocket) Rowlings scored Cowichan’s opener in the 19th minute, his third goal in two cup games.
“He’s on a bit of a roll right now,” James conceded.
Stu Barker, Cowichan’s and the league’s leading scorer, was sidelined with an injury, but the 49ers still had 21 runners and one goalie available.
“The depth of our team is so good,” James gushed. “Normally, a lot of teams wouldn’t be able to make the changes I made and still be able to complete with a good team. It’s a luxury I have to have that depth, and it’s also difficult because some games, some guys get left out. It’s nice to win a big game and have 22 players all get into the game.”
The Niners will face UVic Alumni in a semifinal matchup on Friday at UVic. Both teams have 15 wins and one loss in league play, and Cowichan holds a 52-49 lead in goal-differential. The teams split their two head-to-head meetings, which were both one-goal games.
“They know us. We know them,” James said. “It will come down to who wants it more and who gets the bounces. We’ll give them everything we’ve got.”
The 49ers also have one league game left, against SFFC Forest on March 23 or 24 at the Sherman Road turf. A win in that game should lock up a second-straight league title for Cowichan.