A flurry of goals - not unlike the flurries of snow that nearly caused the game to be cancelled - allowed Cowichan FC to get past the Gordon Head Blazers last Saturday and on to the quarterfinals of the Jackson Cup tournament, the Vancouver Island men's soccer championship.
Dan Cato and Steve Scott scored in the last 10 minutes of the game, lifting Cowichan to a 2-1 victory.
"It wasn't easy, but we pulled it out," Cowichan coach Glen Martin said. "Every year, there seems to be one Div. 2 team that does that to us."
A big, strong Div. 2 team, the Blazers played the way Cowichan expected them
to, focusing on defence. Although Cowichan dominated in terms of possession and territory, their good scoring chances were limited to one, an effort from Dan Citra that didn't find its mark.
The Blazers broke the scoreless deadlock on one of their rare forays into Cowichan territory.
"It was a classic example," Martin said. "They had one chance across half, they let go of a shot, and it gets by our goalie."
The referee barely had time to start play at centre, however, before Cato scored to tie the game, and Scott scored the winner shortly after on what Martin still believes was meant to be a cross to his teammates.
"He definitely wasn't trying to get a shot in," the coach said.
Martin credited Kevin Jones for sparking the victory. The supersub was named game MVP despite just playing the last 20 minutes.
"He didn't score, but he really gave us a boost," he said. "He stirred it up pretty good."
Brad Thorne also played an excellent game, running the middle of the pitch for Cowichan.
Cowichan's next game will be on the weekend of March 7 when they host Saanich Fusion, the top team in Div. 2. "It'll be a hard game for sure. We have to
be ready, and we will be, as long as there's a game."
Cowichan's own Div. 2 team will play its first Jackson Cup game that same weekend, hosting Nanaimo's Div. 2 squad at Evans Field at 2 p.m. on March 9. Nanaimo finished the Div. 2 season two spots below Cowichan United.
Cowichan's Div. 1 women's team had its Doug Day Cup opener cancelled last Sunday, but has another game scheduled for this Sunday, at noon against Saanich FC, a Div. 2 entry, at Evans Field. Cowichan still has five league games remaining.