The Cowichan 49ers opened the masters soccer season in a similar fashion to the way they closed out the last one.
Just two weeks after wrapping up the 2019-20 Vancouver Island Soccer League campaign with a 2-1 loss to UVic Alumni in the long-delayed Tony Grover Cup championship final, the Niners kicked off the 2020-21 season with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the same club on Saturday.
UVic opened the scoring in the 20th minute and led 2-0 at halftime, then added one more goal in the second half.
In spite of the result, there were a lot of positive signs for the 49ers, especially in the form of some promising new recruits.
Brad Thorne returned to the Niners after a year in Div. 3 with Quw’utsun FC, Cowichan Div. 1 head coach Ryan Flynn took the field for the 49ers for the first time, and goalkeeper Darian Achurch made his masters debut after wrapping up a decorated career with Cowichan’s Div. 1 team.
Achurch, who will play out some of the time, stepped in between the pipes against UVic to replace Chris Muller, who has been loaned to the Cowichan Steelheads while their goalie, Preston Johnny is out. Achurch made several unreal saves in the 49ers’ defeat.
“All in all, the new blood looks solid,” 49ers player/manager Neall Rowlings said, hinting that a couple more big signings are in the works as well.
The Steelheads also got their season off to a rough start with a 5-0 loss to Gorge FC at the Sherman Road turf. Gorge scored four times in the first half and added one more in the second.
Both Cowichan teams will need to be better, as the VISL masters division has dropped eight teams, all in the Victoria area, which means the remaining sides will all be stronger. There will be another masters doubleheader on Sherman Road this coming weekend, as the Niners host Gorge at 6 p.m. and the Steelheads host UVic at 8 p.m.