Cowichan LMG made three mistakes that nearly cost them a win against Cermaq in Campbell River last Saturday.
One: Cowichan travelled light with only 12 players. Something head coach Glen Martin knows he shouldn’t do.
“You don’t go to Campbell River or Comox with a small roster,” he said.
Two: Cowichan allowed Cermaq to open the scoring, something Martin has said dozens of time is the wrong way to do things in the Vancouver Island Soccer League. And it was a bad goal, too, Martin admitted. A Campbell River player picked off a pass between two Cowichan defenders and went in on a easy breakaway.
Three: The Cowichan players took the Campbell River team, promoted from Div. 2 to Div. 1 just this year, lightly. Martin knew better than to underestimate the newcomers, and Cermaq ended up earning the respect of the Cowichan players.
“They worked really, really hard,” Martin said. “They battled hard, played well. They were a better team than what our players thought they would be.”
Even without having seen the team before, Martin knew it would be a tough game.
“I had never coached against or played against Campbell River, or been up to Campbell River for a game,” he said.
Paddy Nelson came close to opening the scoring, ringing the ball of the iron in the first two minutes.
“That would have been the goal of the year if it had gone in,” Martin said.
Instead, Cermaq scored, and Cowichan was down 1-0 at halftime. Martin felt his team was lucky to be down by such a slim margin.
“They could have been up by more than one goal.”
Cowichan had started to play better late in the first half, and it paid off early in the second when Nelson was awarded a penalty shot. His initial attempt hit the post and bounced out to Craig Gorman. Gorman’s shot was blocked by the Cermaq keeper, but Nelson buried the second rebound.
Campbell River went ahead again after the referee mistakenly awarded a corner kick on what should have been a goal kick for Cowichan, but Nelson drew his team even once again, finishing off a give-and-go with Gorman and Jordan de Graaf to tie the score with about 15 minutes left to play.
LMG pushed for the win, hitting a couple of crossbars before Farley Cannon finally set up the game-winning goal by Jamie Taylor and Cowichan was able to kill the last three minutes.
“We were a little bit fortunate to come out of that game with three points,” Martin allowed. “We played better in our first game and lost, and played worse this time and won. That’s how soccer goes sometimes.”
After losing their home opener to Gorge a week earlier, Cowichan was desperate for a win in the second game.
“It would have been pretty tough to take if we started the season with two losses, or a loss and a tie with Campbell River,” Martin said.
LMG will have a bye this week as the scheduled game against the V.I. Wave has been bumped to later in the season, then they will head back north to Comox on Oct. 8, hopefully with more players than they took to Campbell River.