Thanks to a 3-1 win over Gorge’s Div. 2 team in Ladysmith last Saturday, Cowichan FC will move on to the first round of the Jackson Cup tournament It wasn’t Cowichan’s most convincing victory of the season – especially considering that Gorge is near the bottom of the Div. 2 standings – but it was enough to keep the team alive.
"It’s cup play," head coach Glen Martin said. "It doesn’t matter how you do it, you’ve just got to win."
The way the draw worked out, Cowichan needed to win the playin game against Gorge just to reach the first round of the tournament, which they won in 2011 and 2012. Cowichan got off to a typical strong start in the game, and led 2-0 after 24 minutes thanks go quick goals from Ryan Andre and Tyler Hughes.
Then they dialed down their intensity and found themselves up by just one goal at halftime.
"For some reason, we let up a little bit," Martin said. "It was time to put the hammer down and put them away, but we let up a little bit and allowed a weak goal. Our killer instinct wasn’t there."
The score remained the same
until late in the game when Matt Arnett put things away with one more goal. Goalie Bob Stankov made a huge save on a free kick by Quinn van Gylswyk, the kicker and punter for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds football team, to preserve the lead.
"He’s looking good," Martin said of Stankov, who returned to the team after several years away with just one regular-season game to go before cup play. "The more we win, the more confidence he’s going to get."
Even though they are a powerhouse in Div. 1, Cowichan has to learn to put teams away when the can and not to underestimate Div. 2 teams.
"These young guys, these hardworking character guys, they don’t quit," he said. "It’s men’s soccer; they’re not going to fold the tent and say that’s enough. We learn everything the hard way."
Cowichan’s next Jackson Cup game goes on Saturday at Tyndall Park at 7:15 p.m. against the Gordon Head Blazers, another
Div. 2 team, albeit older and more experienced than Gorge.
"The way our draw is set up, I think it gets harder every game," Martin noted.
The lessons learned last weekend will still have to apply.
"We’ve got to bury our chances and have more of a killer instinct," said the coach. "Teams with older guys in Div. 2 know that all they have to do is play hard; it’s just one game, and anything can happen. We can’t give teams any hope or chances."
The winner of Saturday’s game will play another Div. 2 team, Saanich Fusion, in the quarterfinals. Cowichan’s Div. 2 earned a bye through the first round of play and will make their debut in the quarterfinals. That game is scheduled for the weekend of March 7-9. In the Lower Island Women’s Soccer Association, Cowichan’s Div. 1 entry has had games rained out two weeks in a row, and still has five games left to play in the regular season.
The women’s team is also entered in the Doug Day Cup tournament, with the first one scheduled for this Sunday at Gorge, followed by a home date with Saanich FC on March 2 and a road game at Castaways on March 9.