Five Cowichan players named to VISL all-stars

Cowichan LMG won’t be in action again until Jan. 17 when the team visits Nanaimo, but several Cowichan players will be busy this weekend, representing the Vancouver Island Soccer League in the Interprovincial All-Star Game in the Fraser Valley.

Goalkeeper Joel Wilson, defenders Tyler Hughes and Jesse Winter, and strikers Paddy Nelson and Cooper Barry were named to the VISL all-star team, which will take on a squad made up of the best players from the Fraser Valley circuit on Saturday.

Nelson leads the VISL with 13 goals, while Barry, who has missed a handful of games this season, is tied for fourth in the league with eight. Hughes, a player/coach, and Winter, the team captain, are defensive stalwarts, while Wilson is second in the league with six shutouts.

"They all definitely deserve to be there," Cowichan coach Glen Martin said. "They’ve been there before."

Martin felt midfielder Kevan Brown probably deserved to be selected to the team as well, but admitted that the committee probably didn’t know if he would be available or not.

Earlier this week, the draw was held for the Jackson Cup tournament to determine the Island champion. Martin said he is "fairly happy" with the draw, which will see his team open at home against Comox Valley’s Div. 1 squad.

Games have not been scheduled yet.

"It’s not a great draw," he said. "Some teams have easier draws. I’d call it a decent draw."

One plus of Cowichan’s draw is that the team is likely to face mostly Div. 1 teams if it makes a run.

"I like that better because we know who we’re playing," Martin said. "From a coaching standpoint, it makes it easier to prepare for a team if we’ve played them already."

This year marks the centenary of the trophy, and Martin would love to hoist it in a landmark year. Cowichan has been to the final four times in the last five years, winning twice.

"Personally, I’d like to win the 100th Jackson Cup," he said. "That would be really good for Cowichan soccer."

That’s down the road, though. Martin’s team still has four games remaining in league play, and he wants to improve on the secondplace result his team has finished with each of the last three seasons.

"I’d like to win the league first," he said. "We’ve never done that in the history of Cowichan soccer."

Div. 2 squad Cowichan United is also entered in the Jackson Cup tournament. United has drawn fellow Div. 2 entry Vantreights for the first round.

Vantreights is currently sixth in Div. 2, while Cowichan sits seventh.

United will resume the regular season on Jan. 16 when they visit eighth-place Saanich Fusion.