Another outstanding performance from goalkeeper Darian Achurch held the fort for Cowichan LMG last Friday evening, long enough for Kevan Brown to provide all the offence the team would need in a 1-0 win over Nanaimo.
Cowichan had a territorial advantage in the first half of the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 match, keeping the bulk of the play in Nanaimo’s end, although Nanaimo seemed to carry most of the possession and created more scoring chances.
“I think we were pretty fortunate for it to be 0-0 at the half,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “I don’t think we had the best half. Darian made a couple of big saves for us.”
Depth on the bench, a luxury LMG hasn’t had most of this season, gave Cowichan a boost in the second half.
“Every sub we made was a good sub,” Martin said. “Having fresh legs off the bench made the difference in the game. We wore them down.”
The hard hat award went to Stevan Zorich who worked tirelessly until late in the game when Martin replaced him with Russell Lederer, one of four players from the national champion VIU Mariners who have joined Cowichan now that the university season is over.
Also entering the game in the second half were Govinda Innes for Tanner Dobson, Joel Harry for Craig Gorman, and Colin Knight for Anton Bucher. The VIU foursome actually arrived at the pitch at halftime following a ceremony in Nanaimo to honour their national championship.
“They got there just in time,” Martin said. “That was huge for us: depth on the bench, fresh legs, quality players, fresh and ready to go.”
Achurch preserved his league-leading fourth shutout of the season.
The victory gives Cowichan a perfect 2-0 regular-season record against Nanaimo, the team that beat them in the Jackson Cup final last spring. LMG remains in first place in Div. 1, three points ahead of Gorge.
“There’s no room for mistakes,” Martin emphasized. “With more parity in the league, it’s so easy to lose a game or tie a game.”
Cowichan will visit Comox this Saturday. Comox may be ninth out of 10 teams in Div. 1, but Martin isn’t taking anything for granted.
“I don’t care where they are in the standings,” he said. “When we play them in Comox, it’s always a hard game.”