Brandon Tolfo scored two goals for Cowichan Oak FC in a 5-1 win over Vic West Wanderers last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Brandon Tolfo scored two goals for Cowichan Oak FC in a 5-1 win over Vic West Wanderers last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Frustrated Cowichan LMG plays to 3rd straight loss

Div. 3 Oak FC surging with 5 wins in 6 games

Inconsistency in the lineup has plagued Cowichan LMG throughout the Div. 1 men’s soccer season, and it has been particularly challenging in recent weeks.

The team played to its third straight loss — and fourth game without a win — last Saturday, falling 4-0 to the Victoria Highlanders at Goudy Field.

“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t have a consistent lineup, but we had our top players there,” Cowichan head coach Ryan Flynn pointed out. “The last few games, we haven’t had a consistent lineup and we haven’t had our top players.”

Head coach for the last two years, and an assistant under Glen Martin for the previous three, Flynn said he hasn’t seen anything like this in the league before.

“This is my fifth year in Div. 1 and I’ve never seen this kind of turnover from game to game,” he lamented. “It hasn’t been consistent at all and it shows.”

Frustration over the lack of results has been showing lately, Flynn acknowledged, although last weekend’s game wasn’t without its bright spots.

“We’re playing defensively really well,” the coach said. “What’s killed us is the turnovers. We had a few turnovers that ended up in the back of our net within 15 to 20 seconds.”

Several individual players also performed well, including Mike Daniels, who battled hard and had some great chances, including a shot that went off the crossbar; Div. 3 call-up Conor Crichton, who was solid at centre midfield; and Kwasun Cook, who was “all over the pitch.”

The players are eager to return to the winning ways that had them near the top of the Div. 1 standings just a month ago.

“The guys are really anxious to get back at it,” Flynn said. “We know we’re close. We have the pieces; we’re just not putting them in the puzzle correctly.”

Flynn accepts his responsibility for much of that, especially with so many players willing to step up as leaders in the clubhouse and on the pitch.

“As a coach, that’s the hard part,” he said. “To balance them as a group and as individuals.”

LMG will get a break this weekend, then play host to seventh-place JDF All Flows on Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. for their final home game of 2021.

Things are going much better in Div. 3 for Cowichan Oak FC, who have won five of their last six matches, including a 5-1 victory over Vic West Wanderers at home last Saturday, after a slow start to the season.

“It’s a mixture of lots of things,” Oak head coach Jonas Golf-Myers said. “We managed to poach a lot of high quality players this year — I like to think because of our team’s positive atmosphere — but it’s taken time for everyone to gel and get used to playing with each other.”

Alex Smith and Brandon Tolfo have been prolific scorers this season, with 14 and 10 goals, respectively, but Golf-Myers feels both players would like a second crack at some of the chances that got away early in the season. The work rate of new addition Isaac Bell has allowed Luca Klotz, who was Man of the Match against Vic West, to stay more focused on offence.

“Lastly, we’ve conceded less silly goals which has forced teams to sit back less against us,” the coach said.

Tolfo had a pair of goals in the win over Vic West, Smith scored once, and Pat Foley and Shermag Joseph also had one apiece.

The Oak will visit Salt Spring FC this Sunday in a homecoming for Smith.

In Div. 4, the Cowichan Fury’s scheduled match was not played last weekend. They are slated to play host to Vantreights this Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Sherman Road turf.