Cowichan LMG’s Keevan Webb holds off a Lakehill player in the second half of last Friday’s Jackson Cup match. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan LMG’s Keevan Webb holds off a Lakehill player in the second half of last Friday’s Jackson Cup match. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Early exit for LMG

For the first time since 2013, Cowichan LMG has taken an early exit from the Sir John Jackson Cup soccer tournament.

Cowichan was eliminated from Jackson Cup contention in the round of 16 thanks to a 2-0 loss to Div. 1-topping Lakehill FC at the Sherman Road turf on Friday night.

Lakehill came out of the gates quicker, and opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. Cowichan played better after that, but trailed 1-0 at halftime. Billy Bagiopoulos nearly tied the score about 10 minutes into the second half, but the Lakehill keeper got his fingers on the low shot and redirected it off the post. Cowichan kept control of the game but couldn’t score, and Lakehill added another one on the counterattack in injury time.

“It was an unlucky second goal,” Cowichan defender Jose Muro remarked. “We were controlling the game at that point and they just got another one while we were pushing forward.”

Though he wasn’t happy to lose, Cowichan head coach Glen Martin had no complaints.

“Lakehill deserved to win,” he said. “They did their job. They’re the league champions and they came into our park with 16 or 17 players. We didn’t create chances, and if you don’t score goals, you can’t win games.”

Grayson Chalifoux was awarded the hard hat as Cowichan’s top player in the losing effort.

“I feel so bad for him,” Martin said. “Every time he tackled someone good and clean, he got whistled on it.”

Other strong performances came from Govinda Innes, Steve Scott and Keevan Webb.

It didn’t help that Cowichan was missing key players Kevan Brown, Joel Harry, Luka Klotz and Stevan Zorich, but Martin wasn’t going to use that as an excuse.

“It’s tough when you’re playing a top team and you don’t have all your best players,” he said. “But that’s part of the cup or the league. That’s how it goes.”

Cowichan still has a shot to make the provincial tournament, especially if either or both of Lakehill and Westcastle make the Jackson Cup final. Five Island teams qualify for provincials, including the two cup finalists and the next three from the league. Cowichan is fourth right now and will either finish third or fourth. Cowichan has qualified for 10 straight provincial tournaments, and Martin is optimistic they can make it 11.

“It’s looking pretty good,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to focus on now.”

Cowichan is one back of Bays United in the standings, with two games left to Bays’ one. Cowichan will visit a desperate Powell River team on March 7.