Desperate for a big win, Cowichan LMG got what they were looking for.
One week after probably their worst outing of the 2016-17 season, the defending Vancouver Island Soccer League champions played their best soccer of the year last Friday in a 5-1 win over Bays United.
“We were saying we needed to bounce back quickly,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “And we did.”
Martin took 17 players to Oak Bay to take on Bays — the top team in Div. 1 going into last week — and put a tough, physical lineup on the field. Eighteen minutes into the game, Paddy Nelson broke the scoreless deadlock. Cooper Barry kicked off a three-goal explosion with his goal at 33 minutes, followed by Nelson’s second of the game at 36 minutes, and one by Farley Cannon at 39 minutes.
Cowichan led 4-0 at halftime.
The teams scuffled in the goal area shortly before they went off for the break after a Bays player hauled off and kicked Cowichan keeper Scott Brown, leading to a yellow card for the Bays player, who was lucky to get away without a red card.
Nelson completed his hat trick in the first minute of the second half and Cowichan cruised to victory after that. All six subs got into the game in the second half.
Martin went into the game feeling better than he had about the previous match, a 5-2 defeat by Vic West.
“It was just a really good team effort,” he said. “Even before the game, I knew that win, lose or draw, the team is back.”
After the crushing loss at home to Vic West, Martin made sure his team was ready to go up against Bays. The team had two really good training sessions in the preceding week.
“It’s amazing what happens when you prepare for a game,” he said.
Martin is optimistic that LMG has turned a corner.
“I feel good,” he said. “I hope we can continue going in the right direction.”
Nelson’s hat trick gave him 10 goals on the season, breaking a tie with Blair Sturrock of the V.I. Wave, who was held without a goal last week. Barry’s goal was his fourth of the year, all scored on headers, including two game-winners. Another new player made his debut in Cowichan silks as Joel Harry, came to the team from Vancouver Island University and had a strong showing alongside veteran Tyler Hughes at centre back. Brown also had a solid outing in goal.
With the loss, Bays slipped from first to second in Div. 1, while Vic West moved into first after a 7-5 win over Lakehill. Cowichan sits fourth with five wins and two losses for 15 points, just one back of third-place Gorge.
LMG will be at home this coming Friday against Saanich Fusion, who have just one win in eight games, and the importance of continuing to play the way they did last weekend is not lost on Martin.
“We’ve got to keep pace with the three teams ahead of us,” he said. “They don’t seem to be letting off.”