Cowichan’s Craig Gorman fires the ball in from the sideline during his team’s provincial quarter-final showdown with Nanaimo FC at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan’s Craig Gorman fires the ball in from the sideline during his team’s provincial quarter-final showdown with Nanaimo FC at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

LMG lucky to get by Nanaimo in quarter-final

Coach hopes for a better effort in provincial semis

For the third time ever, and first time since 2015, Cowichan LMG has reached the provincial men’s open soccer semifinals.

“There are only four teams left in the province, and we’re one of them,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said following his team’s 2-1 win over Nanaimo FC in the quarter-final round last Saturday. “This is our third time in the semifinals, so hopefully it’s third-time lucky.”

Cowichan previously reached the semis in 2013 and 2015, losing at home to West Van FC in 2013 and on the road against Estrella de Chile in 2015. In 2015, Cowichan was a minute away from advancing to the final when they gave up the tying goal, then lost on penalty kicks.

Cowichan’s semifinal opponents will be BCT Tigers Rovers United, who finished first in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League Premier Division, with 15 wins, two draws and five losses, outscoring their opponents 56-32. Tigers Rovers defeated VMSL runner-up Pegasus FC in their quarter-final matchup.

“We definitely have to be ready,” Martin said. “We’ll have our hands full. It will be a strong, strong team we’re playing. We’ve got to play better than we did against Nanaimo.”

Cowichan dominated Nanaimo this year, winning two league games and a Jackson Cup match without conceding a goal. Saturday’s provincial match was a different story.

“That was probably the best they’ve played against us,” Martin said. “Or the worst we’ve played against them.”

Nanaimo dominated the early going, but didn’t manage to score a goal.

“They were pretty unlucky,” Martin assessed.

Craig Gorman scored for Cowichan about 15 minutes into the match, his third goal in LMG’s two playoff games. Not long after, around the five minute mark, Nanaimo evened the score after Cowichan goalkeeper Darian Achurch mishandled the ball, and the teams went to their dressing rooms at halftime knotted at 1-1.

The second half was scoreless, although Cowichan had more chances, and the game went to two 15-minute overtimes. Cowichan’s Cooper Barry capitalized on a penalty kick midway through the first 15, and LMG defended the rest of the way, although nearly the entire second overtime was played in the Cowichan end. Nanaimo did appear to score during the second 15 minutes, but it was ruled offside.

While Martin wasn’t pleased overall with his team’s performance against Nanaimo, he acknowledged that Achurch came back from his early blunder and played extremely well for the rest of the match, and Joel Harry had a strong outing at centre back.

The rest of the team will have to bounce back from a rough outing.

“We have to learn from that,” Martin said. “We need to play a lot harder, a lot better in the next game, or we’ll be in trouble. We can’t have a bad game like that and expect to win.”

Cowichan LMG will play host to BCT Tigers Rovers United at the David Williams Turf on Sunday at noon.