Cowichan’s Cooper Barry, seen here in a previous Jackson Cup game, scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Nanaimo on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

LMG gets past Nanaimo in contentious Jackson Cup game

A controversial call ended up deciding the Jackson Cup quarterfinal in Nanaimo on Saturday night, sending Cowichan LMG to the semifinal of the Vancouver Island senior men’s soccer championship once again.

Cowichan led 1-0 when Nanaimo — who beat Cowichan in overtime in the Jackson Cup final last spring — believed they had scored a late, game-tying goal. The officials didn’t see it the same way, incurring the wrath of the Nanaimo fans and players, and Cowichan held on to win.

For his part, Cowichan head coach Glen Martin didn’t know if it was in or not, and it wouldn’t have been his call anyway.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “I’m 75 yards away. I can’t tell if the ball is in or not.”

Martin was anticipating a close game, and that’s just what he got.

“I said it would be a hard battle,” he recalled. “And it went kind of how we thought. They were up for the game like we thought they would be.”

It was a fast, physical game, especially at the start as the players got used to a short, fast turf, made slick by the cold weather. The teams were tied at 0-0 after a fairly even first half, but Cowichan came out strong after the break.

“In the second half, we played a lot better,” Martin said. “We raised our level.”

Nanaimo’s goalie made some big saves to keep the game close. With about 10 minutes to go, Cooper Barry was taken down in the box. Barry took the ensuing penalty shot himself, and capitalized.

Nanaimo pushed hard to tie things up. When they thought the ball had gone in, the Nanaimo players cheered, but knowing the whistle hadn’t blown, Cowichan took the ball and kept playing.

“The only thing they forgot was that the referee didn’t call that it was in, and the linesman didn’t call that it was in,” Martin said. “We might have gotten a break there, but I can’t control what the referee does.”

The game carried on, and Cowichan’s 1-0 lead held up.

Cowichan can’t keep thinking about that result, as they prepare to host Gorge in the semifinals this Saturday at 7 p.m. Vic West and Lakehill will meet in the other semi.

Gorge finished fifth in Div. 1 in league play, and Cowichan won both head-to-head meetings, 2-0 in Victoria in October and 4-0 in Duncan in February. That won’t mean anything in cup play.

“We’re expecting Gorge to bring their best,” Martin said. “We have to be ready.”

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