If Gorge was the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s Team of the Decade for the first 10 years of this century, it’s pretty clear who the Team of the Second Decade is.
That would be Cowichan LMG, who have dominated the circuit for the last 10 years, winning four Jackson Cups, five league titles and one Cup Winners Cup, a record that matches up well against Gorge’s six Jackson Cups and six league titles between 2000 and 2009.
Cowichan is aiming for a sixth-straight league title this season, which would tie Gorge’s record. Unlike in some recent seasons, when the club has started the year with a bare-bones squad, numbers are looking good this year, said head coach Glen Martin, who is entering his 15th season at the helm of a Div. 1 team.
Close to 30 players tried out this year, and some of the cuts are expected to join the Div. 3 team, which would allow them to be called up to Div. 1 if necessary. The group includes a core of 13 or 14 returning players from last year, with assistant coach Ryan Flynn also back on board to help out.
LMG will start the VISL season on the road, playing defending Jackson Cup champs Westcastle United at Royal Athletic Park on Sept. 15 in a game that will serve as both the season opener and the Cup Winners Cup match. The Div. 1 team’s first home game is set for Friday, Sept. 20 at the Sherman Road turf.
In addition to being promoted from Div. 4 to Div. 3, Cowichan’s next-tier squad also has a new title sponsor: the Community Farm Store. Victory Barber and Brand North is also on board as a major supporter. The Farm Store Fury will open the Div. 3 league season this Saturday at 4 p.m. against Campbell River on the Sherman Road turf. The Fury are also the only Cowichan team in the McGavin Cup tournament, and after getting a bye through the first round, they will play their second-round game next Tuesday at 6 p.m., although the location is yet to be finalized.
Both Cowichan masters teams will start the season in the same pool. The 49ers, who are the defending league and cup champions, will open the season at home this Saturday against Castaways at 6 p.m. The Steelheads will visit Cordova Bay to start the year, then play their first home game against Vic West on Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.
Cowichan will not be fielding a U21 men’s team this year.
Lower Island Women’s Soccer League schedules have not been released yet, but the season is set to start the weekend of Sept. 13 and 14.