Luke Armstrong boots the ball up the pitch during Cowican United’s 2-1 win over Bays last Sunday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan U21s start strong and hold on to beat Bays

Strikers Kits and Jack set the tone for Cowichan United

Cowichan United continued its strong play of late with a 2-1 win over Bays United last Sunday afternoon.

The U21 soccer team picked up its second straight victory and earned a point for the second straight match. Cowichan wasted no time setting the tone, and it paid off quickly.

“We’ve been focusing on the start of the game,” head coach Tyler Hughes said. “And we started very strong.”

Logan Kits and Devin Jack started up front, and began pressing right away, causing turnovers that led to a goal by Kits just three minutes in. Cowichan continued to hold the edge and took the 1-0 lead into halftime.

“For the rest of the first half, we played with a lot of confidence and performed well,” Hughes said.

The Cowichan players headed to their dressing room at the break, while the Bays boys shivered in the cold, appearing to onlookers like they would be happy to head back to Victoria early. Bays actually came on stronger in the second half, but Cowichan’s sustained pressure and quick ball movement ended up creating a chance that Jack capitalized on to make it 2-0 with about 30 minutes left to play.

Bays ended up scoring on a counterattack with less than four minutes left to play, ending Braeden Nash’s bid for a clean sheet.

“Braeden made a couple of good saves,” Hughes commented. “I felt bad for him; he was three minutes away from getting the shutout and we couldn’t hold on for him.”

With 18 players dressed, Cowichan had its biggest bench of the season on Sunday, and the team is peaking at the right time with two league games left, both in January. Currently fifth in the league, Cowichan is three points back of third-place Lakehill and two back of fourth-place Castaways and could finish as high as third. Their two remaining league games happen to be against the teams they are chasing for that position: Cowichan hosts Lakehill on Jan. 20 at 2:15 p.m. and visits Castaways a week later.

The team will have the next three weeks off for Christmas, and will start training again in the second week of January. Hughes just hopes his players are cautious during the break.

“As long as nobody goes snowboarding or skiing and hurts themselves, we should have a full team for January and February when the exciting part of the season starts.”

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