Cowichan’s Luke Armstrong redirects the ball with his head during Sunday’s game against Bays. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan’s Luke Armstrong redirects the ball with his head during Sunday’s game against Bays. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan U21s bounce back to beat Bays

U21s remain in contention for first place

After starting 2018 with back-to-back losses, Cowichan United returned to their winning ways in impressive fashion on Sunday, thumping Bays United 6-1 at Dave Williams Field.

Logan Kits scored three times, and Michael Fusick, Brennan Shaver and Miles Boulton had one each as Cowichan improved to 7-4-2, holding down fourth place in the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s U21 division, four points out of first place, two out of second and one out of third.

Cowichan got off to an ugly start, surrendering the first goal almost immediately, something head coach Tyler Hughes has seen before.

“We’ve given up more goals than I’d like to admit in the first minutes of games,” he said. “It’s a tough one to explain.

“I guess the positive is that this is a resilient group. They have character. They don’t have issues with coming from behind to score goals. We’ve done it quite often.”

Hughes and his assistant coaches can’t pin down a reason for the slow starts.

“As a coaching staff, we’ve tried to figure it out,” he said. “We’ve tried starting games different ways. The guys seemed up for the game. Everyone seemed ready to go.”

Unfazed by that first goal, the Cowichan players stuck to the game and it paid off. They scored three times in a span of seven minutes later in the first half, and got some big saves from goalkeeper Braeden Nash to take a 4-1 lead into the break.

“After those three goals, they were playing with a lot of confidence,” Hughes said. “We had full control of the game.”

Kits scored twice in the first half and completed the hat trick on his team’s last goal of the game. He now leads the U21 division with 14 goals, while Fusick’s four on the season have him tied for fifth in the scoring race. As a team, Cowichan’s 35 goals through 13 matches also lead the league by a substantial margin.

“He seems to be our go-to goal-scorer,” Hughes said of Kits. “He’s such a dangerous player. After him, a ton of guys have pitched in. We have good distribution around the team.”

Cowichan has a big weekend coming up as they face two of the top three teams, visiting first-place Prospect Lake on Friday and hosting the third-place Mid Isle Mariners on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. In meetings earlier this year, Cowichan split with Prospect Lake, and tied and lost narrowly against Mid Isle.

This weekend’s games promise to be close as well.

“It’s a pretty interesting league. Everyone has five games left and the top four all have a chance to finish first. It’s very competitive. I’m confident we can outperform and beat any of those teams.”