In just one weekend, Cowichan LMG vaulted from fourth place to first in Div. 1 of the Vancouver Island Soccer League.
Cowichan defeated Gorge 3-2 on Friday on a late goal by Govinda Innes, beating one of the teams in front of them. Then on Saturday, Bays United lost to Campbell River Cermaq, and Vic West fell to Nanaimo United. As a result, Cowichan matched Bays’ league-leading 21 points, and holds top spot on goal differential.
Cowichan also has a game in hand on the four teams chasing them, which could come in handy with the top five squads separated by just three points.
Last Friday’s game took place on a short and “worn-out” Hampton Park turf, which Martin’s team struggled to adjust to.
“It’s a tough field to play on,” the coach said. “It leads to bad soccer.”
LMG trailed 1-0 at halftime, and Martin admitted his team was concerned, despite picking things up after about 30 minutes.
“We really didn’t come out well. We started flat. We weren’t happy, especially with the first 15 minutes.”
Jamie Taylor scored in the first minute of the second half to even things up, but Gorge regained the lead soon after. Cooper Barry, who had two first-half goals called back on offsides, tied the score in the eighth minute of the second half, capping off an incredible individual effort with a hard shot to the back of the net.
“It went from 1-0 for them to 2-2 in just eight minutes,” Martin pointed out.
With time winding down, the game looked like it would go down as a draw. In the 88th minute, however, Cowichan was awarded a corner kick. The ball ended up on the foot of Innes, who struck it hard. After a couple of bounces, it ended up in the net, and Cowichan killed off the remaining two minutes of regulation and three minutes of extra time to prevail.
“We were pretty fortunate to get the win, but we’ll take it,” Martin said.
Last time Cowichan won on such a late goal was on Sept. 24, when they beat Cermaq in Campbell River by an identical 3-2 score. Cowichan will host Cermaq for a rematch this Saturday at Sherman Road at the unusual time of 4 p.m.
“They just beat Bays, so they’ll have confidence,” Martin said. “We can’t take them lightly. As soon as you take a team lightly, things go wrong.”
Martin doesn’t expect Cermaq to sit back and defend, and his team won’t come out of the gate as slowly as they did against Gorge, either.
“I think you’ll see us come out flying next game,” he said. “We need to take control of the game. Especially on our home field.”