Seen here during a game last season, Govinda Innes will be returning to Cowichan LMG this week after winning a national championship with VIU. (Citizen file)

Seen here during a game last season, Govinda Innes will be returning to Cowichan LMG this week after winning a national championship with VIU. (Citizen file)

LMG gets deserved loss against Westcastle

Cowichan coach says opponents were the better team on the day

Glen Martin had nothing but good things to say about the team that handed his squad its second loss of the 2017-18 Vancouver Island Soccer season.

“We definitely underestimated our opponent,” Martin said following Cowichan LMG’s 2-1 loss to Westcastle at Westhills Stadium last Saturday. “We had a feeling they were going to be good, but we didn’t know they would be this good.”

Westcastle came out strong and opened the scoring 22 minutes into the match.

“In the first half, they totally outplayed us,” Martin said. “We were very fortunate to only be down 1-0 at the half. We weren’t prepared. We underestimated them. They played really well.”

The Cowichan players and coaches were still optimistic that they could come back, assuming that Westcastle couldn’t maintain the pace they played at in the first half. Martin brought in two subs off the bench and changed the formation, and it worked for a time. Craig Gorman tied the score in the 61st minute, and Cowichan went at Westcastle “pretty strong” for the next 10 minutes.

LMG had another defensive lapse with about 20 minutes to go, and Westcastle made it 2-1, then held on from there, although Cowichan refused to give up and made a late push.

“We had lots of opportunities at the end,” Martin pointed out. “They were hanging on, but the damage had been done before that.”

The coach didn’t mince words as he stated his team got the warranted result.

“We deserved to lose,” he said. “They were the better team on that night. They created many more scoring chances. They’ve got a good young team. They’re sixth in the league — I don’t know how that works.”

It was the perfect storm of Cowichan having an especially bad outing and Westcastle playing at their best.

“We picked a bad night to have not a good game,” Martin said. “Four or five of our starters played below their ability. It was a combination of us having one of our worst games and them having their best of the year.”

As much as Cowichan picked things up toward the end, Martin admitted his team was lucky to lose by a single goal.

“If they had finished their chances, it would have been a lopsided game,” he said.

For the last few years, it hasn’t been unusual for teams to raise their level of play when they face Cowichan.

“Because we’ve been the top dogs in the league, we do get the best from the other teams. They get motivated when they play us.”

At least, Martin joked, the result would have made some other Div. 1 teams happy. Cowichan remains first in the league with 22 points, with the next four teams between 19 and 17, while Westcastle is sixth with 14. LMG could have doubled their lead over Gorge with a win last weekend.

“We had the opportunity to go six points clear and we didn’t do it,” he pointed out.

With no more games this season between his team and Westcastle — unless they meet in cup play — Martin will be cheering for Westcastle for the rest of the year as they face the teams pursuing Cowichan for first place.

“Maybe they’ll do us a favour,” he said. “Hopefully they keep doing well.”

LMG will be back on their home turf this Friday, hosting Nanaimo at 7 pm.

“We’ll try to regroup and get back on the winning wave,” Martin said. “Rain or shine, we’ll be training this week.”

Cowichan got Keevan Webb back last week after the end of the UVic soccer season. The team will get another boost this coming week as Govinda Innes, Colin Knight, Joel Harry and Russell Lederer return after winning the CCAA national championship with the VIU Mariners last weekend.

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