Cowichan LMG weathered the storm in the early going of their Vancouver Island Soccer League match against Bays United on Friday night, and came home with a 2-0 win.
“We were very, very fortunate not to be down early,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “We were lucky they didn’t get one or two in the first 10 minutes.
“They came at us hard. We didn’t start properly. We have to address that issue in the new year.”
Former LMG stars Paddy Nelson and Cooper Barry joined Bays in the offseason, along with Craig Gorman, who has since transferred back to Cowichan. Nelson is once again leading the top division in scoring, and nearly added to his totals as his former team let him wander the pitch freely in the early going on Friday. Fortunately for Cowichan, Nelson sent one shot wide, and the other was a dribbler that hit the post and rolled out.
“To go down to a team like that 2-0 early would not have been good. It makes it a lot more difficult against a team that’s coming at you.”
Cowichan got their act together soon after that.
“We started playing better after about 20 minutes,” Martin said.
In the 27th minute, Gorman took the ball into the box and fed it to Colin Knight, who sent it into the net to put Cowichan up 1-0. That lead lasted into halftime.
“That’s soccer,” Martin said. “If you don’t take your chances, it comes back to haunt you, that’s what happened to them.”
The second half was fairly even as Cowichan goalkeeper Darian Achurch and his Bays counterpart took turns making highlight-reel stops.
“Both goalies made a lot of good saves,” Martin said. “It felt like it should have been a 5-5 game if not for the goalies.”
Kevan Brown scored Cowichan’s second goal late in the second half, and the team held on after that.
“We played quite well in the second half,” Martin said. “We probably had more chances than they did.”
This was Gorman’s fourth game back for Cowichan, and his first without a goal, although he assisted on Knight’s eventual game-winner, and also set up a play for Stevan Zorich that would have made it 2-0 late in the first half. Knight also played well apart from scoring his goal.
Joel Harry was another standout for Cowichan at left back.
“He stood out more than usual,” Martin said. “He played to his potential. He stepped it up for sure.”
Veteran Steve Scott appeared motivated by a chance to play against some of his good friends on Bays, like Nelson, Barry and Craig Robertson.
“It was like he was possessed or something,” Martin said. “He knows a lot of those guys. He had a big game in the midfield.”
The loss basically eliminated Bays from winning the league, ending Nelson and Barry’s seven-year string of league championships, including three with Saanich Fusion and four with Cowichan. Gorman could still win his eighth consecutive league title, but that’s far from a sure thing.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do before we can win the league,” Martin said. “We need a better mental attitude. We need to prepare better. You’ve got to dictate the pace, set the tempo and score first in this league.”
Cowichan LMG has 24 points on seven wins, one loss and three draws, four back of first-place Lakehill and two back of second-place Mid Isle Mariners. Cowichan does have two games in hand on both teams, but Martin is always cautious about games-in-hand.
“They don’t mean anything until you play them,” he said.
Cowichan will be off until Jan. 19, when they play host to Mid Isle.