Admittedly, Cowichan LMG has been trying to hang in there with the top teams in the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s top division in the early going this season as they await the influx of several Vancouver Island University Mariners players once the collegiate season comes to an end.
Last weekend’s game provided a bit of a preview of what the Cowichan club will look like in a few more weeks when two VIU players — Russell Lederer and Colin White — took advantage of having the Thanksgiving weekend off and suited up for LMG.
Lederer scored Cowichan’s first goal of the match and indirectly set up another, and White was a standout alongside Kevan Brown at centre back as LMG beat Vantreights 3-1 at Blanshard Park on Sunday.
“It was a bit of a different day,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “It was the first time in a long time that we’ve played on a Sunday, besides Jackson Cup finals.”
Vantreights scored first, about 30 minutes in, and Lederer responded almost immediately.
“I wasn’t very happy, getting scored on first,” Martin said. “The good thing about it was we tied it up right away.”
Vantreights sits last in Div. 1, but Martin didn’t want to be trailing the big, strong team very long, and certainly hoped to avoid trailing at halftime.
“The last 15 minutes of the first half, we started playing better,” he said.
Cowichan ended the half with a penalty shot that Paddy Nelson missed. That kick would have been a huge momentum-swinger had it gone in, but Martin’s team was still feeling confident at the break.
“We knew if we kept working hard, we should be able to do it,” the coach recalled.
Craig Gorman gave Cowichan the lead about 10 minutes into the second half, but that didn’t stop Vantreights.
“They came back pretty hard,” Martin noted. “They didn’t think it was over, by any means.”
Vantreights had a goal called back on an offside. Late in the game, Lederer earned a penalty shot, which Nelson capitalized on for his league-leading ninth of the season.
“It was a tough game,” Martin admitted. “They’re the bottom team in the league, but it just goes to show that every game is hard. They battled us hard in a 3-1 game. We’ll take the three points and move on.”
Five games into the season, Cowichan is 4-1, just one point back of first-place Gorge. Next up is a home game this Saturday at 6 p.m. against the V.I. Wave.
“We’re expecting a really tough game,” Martin said. “We better be ready for this one. We’ve got to start games better and play 90 minutes, not 60.”