Two things will be in Cowichan FC’s favour this Sunday when the Valley soccer team battles Saanich Fusion in the Jackson Cup final.
One: the game at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park will be played on grass, and Cowichan practices on grass while Saanich trains on turf.
Two: Cowichan has a lot more experience in Jackson Cup finals, having played for the trophy in 2010, 2011 and 2012, winning on the latter two occasions.
That’s not to say Saanich doesn’t have its own advantages. Fusion has won the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s First Division three years in a row and defeated Cowichan twice in league play.
"To be honest, I think [the matchup] is dead even," Cowichan coach Glen Martin said. "It could go either way."
With both teams generally healthy, one of the major determining factors could end up being goalkeeping. Cowichan will have Bob Stankov in net as Joel Wilson, who began the year as the team’s top keeper, is still out with a concussion. Saanich will have their backup in goal as well.
Stankov will be the third different keeper to handle duties for Cowichan FC in the team’s four appearances in the final, following Wilson (2012) and Kevin James (2010 and 2011).
"It will come down to who works hardest, who’s willing to go into the dirty areas," Martin said. "It’s about who wants it more. I know our guys want it, but the other team wants it too."
Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, it won’t be the end of the season for Cowichan FC, who have already qualified for the provincial tournament and will find out their draw next Monday.
"Win or lose, we still have something to play for after this game," Martin said.
Sunday’s game at Royal Athletic Park begins at 2:30 p.m.