Jordan De Graaf celebrates his third goal of the game in Cowichan LMG’s 4-1 win over Comox Valley United last Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Jordan De Graaf celebrates his third goal of the game in Cowichan LMG’s 4-1 win over Comox Valley United last Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

De Graaf leads Cowichan LMG to win over Comox United

Back after five years, De Graaf makes up for lost time

An old friend returned to spur Cowichan LMG to a big win at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday night.

A member of Cowichan’s last Jackson Cup championship team in 2016, Jordan De Graaf scored a hat trick in his first game back with the club in five years to lead Cowichan to a 4-1 victory over Comox Valley United in Div. 1 of the Vancouver Island Soccer League.

De Graaf started this season playing with Vic West, but wanted to come back to Cowichan, and the team completed the transfer at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, just an hour and a half before the deadline to get him in action for the weekend game.

“He’s super excited to be playing here again and have the opportunity to play with his friends again,” Cowichan head coach Ryan Flynn said.

It didn’t take long for that excitement to pay off as De Graaf scored on a free kick in the sixth minute, then worked a give-and-go with Dan Citra to set up Blaze Roberts at 15 minutes. Comox answered back immediately after Roberts’s goal, which wasn’t completely unexpected.

“The guys were sort of like, ‘This is gonna be an easy one,’” Flynn said. “The next five minutes after a goal like that, there’s usually a bit of a letdown.”

Flynn made a couple of changes to the lineup at halftime, and promised a few other players that they would get in as soon as it was 3-1. He had to tell them they’d need to wait a little bit longer when De Graaf scored less than two minutes into the second half.

“That would have been too early to make changes,” Flynn explained, noting that he was eventually able to get everyone into the match. “You don’t want to disrupt things too early.”

Jordan completed his hat trick in the 70th minute, with a celebration to suit the achievement. Up 4-1, Cowichan tried to just weather the storm after that and avoid anything like an injury or a red card, but Mateo Kostering ended up taking a red cared three minutes after De Graaf’s third goal. Even down a man, Cowichan still had chances to score.

Goalkeeper Ray Fox was outstanding once again for LMG.

With a fully loaded roster, not everyone is getting the playing time they would like, which is something Flynn has to manage.

“I tell them, ‘When you get an opportunity, work hard and make it harder for me,’” the coach said. “Some guys take that as a positive, some take it as a negative. As a Div. 1 team, we’re here to win, not to make guys happy. It’s a tough situation.”

Cowichan is now tied for fourth in Div. 1 with two wins, one draw and one loss. Their next game is against winless Gorge FC at Hampton Park this Friday, but Flynn isn’t looking at it as an easy victory.

“They always give us trouble on their own field,” he noted.

In Div. 3, Cowichan Oak FC played to a 2-0 loss at Gorge on Sunday. They will play host to the Saanich Matadors at the Sherman Road turf on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

In Div. 4, the Cowichan Fury earned their first win of the season, 5-0 over JDF United at home on Saturday afternoon. Sherman Joseph scored twice, and Isaac Bell, Peter Wynne and Tyrone Charlie had singles. The Fury will visit Cook Street United at Victoria’s Finlayson Park this coming Saturday night.

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