Kevin Rothbauer Citizen
A brief lapse and an unfortunate decision by the referee forced Cowichan LMG to settle for a 2-2 draw with Bays FC in the battle for first place in the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s top division last Friday.
“It felt like we gave the game away,” head coach Glen Martin said. “It was disappointing we didn’t come away with the victory.”
Playing on the UVic turf — the fourth different field on which Cowichan has played Bays in their last four games — Cowichan got off to an excellent start, but so did Bays.
“They came ready to play,” Martin said. “They had all their players there.”
Cowichan striker Paddy had a great chance to score early on, but the ball was cleared off line by a big play from one of the Bays defenders. By and large, play went back and forth.
About 30 minutes in, the ref made a call that a Bays player told him he didn’t like, using language colourful enough to earn himself a red card. Ten minutes after that, Cooper Barry opened the scoring for Cowichan with his league-leading seventh goal of the season.
At halftime, Cowichan was looking good with a 1-0 lead and Bays playing a man down.
Nelson was foiled again about five minutes into the second half, this time when the Bays goalie stopped him on a breakaway. Still, Martin thought his team was looking pretty good.
All of a sudden, Bays managed to clear the ball down the wing into the Cowichan end, then whip it over to Jordie Hughes, the high-scoring brother of Cowichan defender Tyler, and he headed it into the net to tie the score.
“It came out of nowhere,” Martin said.
A few minutes later, Bays was awarded a penalty shot after one of their players took a dive in the box, making it look like Tyler Hughes had accosted him.
“Tyler never gives up a penalty shot,” Martin said. “He hasn’t done that in seven years that I’ve been coaching him.”
Bays scored on the penalty shot and suddenly led 2-1.
“We had a lapse [on the first goal], but the ref was completely fooled by that,” Martin continued. “It shouldn’t have been a penalty shot.”
With about 15 minutes left in the game, Nelson finally scored the goal he had been so close to all game, his sixth of the year, salvaging a point in the standings for his team. Cowichan still pushed to get the victory, but had to make do with the draw.
“We played as hard as we could, but we couldn’t find the winner,” Martin said. “At least we showed some character and came back to tie it. It would have been easy to just pack it in.”
With the tie, Cowichan managed to retain first place in the division, a point ahead of Bays and four ahead of Nanaimo and Saanich Fusion.
The team will have another big game this Friday against Lakehill at the Ladysmith turf, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Lakehill is near the bottom of Div. 1, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of winning.
“There are three points on the line,” Martin said. “We need to bounce back.”