FC is on to the semis

Cowichan FC is bound for the semifinals of the Jackson Cup soccer tournament, while Cowichan United was eliminated after losing their quarterfinal match.

Thanks to a hat trick by Connor Crichton, FC, Cowichan’s Div. 1 team and the Jackson Cup champions in 2011 and 2012, advanced in the tournament with a 5-2 win over Saanich Fusion’s Div. 2 squad on Friday night. United, Cowichan’s Div. 2 entry, lost a much closer 1-0 game against Nanaimo’s Div. 2 team on Sunday night.

FC got off to an excellent start on Friday and took the lead just 15 minutes in when Crichton scored his first, converting a corner kick by Tyler Hughes. Hughes also set up the second goal, a header by Dan Cato at 34 minutes, and Ben Robson made it a 3-0 game at 39 minutes, set up by Kevin Jones, who was making a rare start.

"We were dominating the game," head coach Glen Martin said. "We were all over them, looking really good."

At the end of the first half, Saanich capitalized on a defensive miscue and got on the board.

"I was pretty upset that they scored on the last play of the half, but we didn’t dwell on it," Martin said.

Cowichan wanted to get back on Saanich quickly, which is exactly what happened as Crichton scored two minutes into the second half, then completed the hat trick 13 minutes later to make it 5-1. Martin mixed things up by putting Bram Taylor and Kevan Brown into the game midway through the second half. Unfortunately, the team got greedy, which ended up costing them as Saanich scored again.

"They decided to try to score more goals instead of playing defensively and just keeping possession," Martin said.

FC managed to hold on for the 5-2 victory and a berth in the semis.

Cowichan United outplayed Nanaimo in their quarterfinal, but weren’t able to turn that into a victory.

"We played great and were the better team, but we got unlucky when they came on a counter attack," said coach Neall Rowlings, who was back at the field for the first time in 51 days since suffering a badly broken leg in a game.

Newcomer Austin Pugh had a standout game, Nick Crichton played "the game of his life," in Rowlings’s words, Daryl Kobe played a physical game that led to him tackling two Nanaimo players at once, and goalkeeper Darian Achurch was his usual solid self.

Rowlings expressed his appreciation for Ryan Flynn, who filled in as coach during his absence. United will now be supporting Cowichan FC and rebuilding for next year.

FC will head to Hampton Park this Friday at 8 p.m. for their semifinal against Bays, the same team that knocked them out of the first round last year, and the defending Jackson Cup champions.

"It’s the game of the year," Martin said. "Hopefully we’ve got bigger ones coming up, but it’s the biggest one so far."