A premature finish to the Provincial A Cup tournament left Cowichan LMG head coach Glen Martin wondering what went wrong.
“I’m disappointed we aren’t advancing with the team we have,” Martin said after his team’s season came to an end with a 1-0 loss at the hands of Langley United on Saturday in the first round of the provincial tourney. “We had a very strong team this year. We underachieved in a way.”
Martin acknowledged that it sounds odd to suggest that a team that won the VancouVer Island Soccer League’s top division for the third consecutive season and reached the Jackson Cup final for the seventh time in eight years underachieved, but he felt the team could have accomplished even more. The team sputtered a bit late in the league season and through the Jackson Cup final and the match with Langley.
“I couldn’t seem to put the right starting lineup together for the last six games of the year,” Martin said, noting that his team surrendered the first goal in all but one of those games, a win over Div. 2 Prospect Lake. “You can’t survive that way.”
Cowichan actually got off to a good start on Saturday, immediately creating scoring chances for striker Dan Cato, including one that was cleared off the line by a Langley defender. A soft goal by Langley around the 30-minute mark ended up being the death knell for LMG.
“We didn’t really recover from that,” Martin said.
Trying to remain patient, Martin didn’t make any subs at halftime, but that didn’t pay off.
“At the start of the second half, we didn’t come out with any urgency,” he said. “We spent the first 15 to 20 minutes of the second half doing nothing.”
Martin eventually did make three changes early in the half, bringing in Govinda Innes, Anton Bucher and Jamie Taylor for Craig Gorman, Brad Archibald and Steve Scott. The newcomers provided some spark, even if it didn’t pay off.
“All the subs played well,” the coach said. “It was unfortunate we couldn’t get a goal.”
Cowichan pushed hard for the last 30 minutes, to no avail. Cooper Barry appeared to tie the score late in the game, but was called offside. The result wasn’t what they were looking for, but Martin couldn’t fault his team’s effort.
“The guys tried hard,” he said. “The other team was a good, strong team. They were organized defensively; they were hard to take apart, and they had a good, strong goaltender. We didn’t score a goal in our home park. You can’t win that way.”
Reflecting on the season, Martin found a lot of things to be pleased with. Paddy Nelson led the league with 26 goals, then added five more in cup play for a total of 31, breaking his own club record. The Big Three of Nelson, Barry and Gorman combined to score 53 times. Martin also praised defenders Tyler Hughes, who was a rock once again on the back line, and Brad Archibald, who has played under Martin for the last 13 seasons: the first in Div. 2 and the remaining 12 in Div. 1. He is looking forward to getting midseason pickups Bucher, who moved over from Lakehill, and Taylor and Joel Harry from Vancouver Island University, back next year.
Despite the disappointment on Saturday, Martin admitted he had a good time this season.
“It was a fun year for me coaching. It’s a fun group of guys. I think we had more fun at training than we did at games. We need to learn to take our training sessions to our games. If we can figure that out, we’ll be alright.”