Head coach Tyler Hughes wasn’t there when Cowichan United beat the first-place Mid Isle Mariners 2-1 at Ladysmith’s Forrest Field last Sunday evening, but he didn’t see it as an upset.
“To our team, the result wasn’t surprising,” Hughes said. “Every time we’ve played those guys, it’s been a tough, close game.”
Prior to last weekend’s match, Cowichan had collected a close loss and a tie against the U21 soccer league leaders this season. Combined with strong play in other recent games, Cowichan was more than due for a big win.
“The last few weeks, we’ve been starting to come into our own and figure things out,” Hughes said. “It’s good to have the result, but we’re not surprised by it.
“I think [the Mariners] were probably more shocked than we were.”
Mid Isle got off to a better start in the match and scored first, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime. Cowichan got the equalizer early in the second half, when Bjorn Erickson was taken down in the box and Nic Fusick capitalized on the ensuing penalty kick. Cowichan continued to play better as the second half progressed.
“We played really well and put a lot of pressure on them,” Hughes commented.
With less than 10 minutes left to play, Logan Kits was awarded an indirect free kick from three yards inside the 18-yard box, and the shot deflected in off a defender to give Cowichan the lead. As time ticked down, two Mid Isle players were given their second yellow cards of the game, leading to automatic red cards.
“From what I understand it was just from them being unhappy and arguing with the ref,” Hughes said.
Unsurprising though the win may have been, it moved Cowichan up to fifth place in the U21 division and should give the team a morale boost.
“It will help our guys,” Hughes said. “It gives our guys confidence.”
There are just three games left prior to cup play, including one this weekend, and Cowichan can continue to move up in the standings. The team will be home to sixth-place Bays United this Sunday at 2:15 p.m. Cowichan beat Bays 4-3 the first time they played this season, but Bays won 3-1 in their last meeting on Nov. 4.