Cowichan LMG is on to the provincial quarterfinals.
In a rematch of the Jackson Cup championship game earlier this month, Cowichan defeated Bays United 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to get through the first round of the B.C. senior men’s A Cup soccer tournament.
“We played quite well,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “We got stronger and better as the game went on. When you give us a lot of time and space with the ball, we’re going to do things with it.”
The score flattered Bays, as Cowichan dominated the contest, but it was actually the Victoria team that got on the board first, finding the back of the net in the 18th minute on a long through-ball finished off perfectly.
“It was totally against the play,” Martin said. “It was our fault, a giveaway.”
Although giving up the first goal in a soccer game can be disastrous, Cowichan responded well to the mistake, as Keevan Webb evened the score less than a minute later.
“The nice thing about it was the way we reacted to [the Bays goal],” Martin said.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 at halftime, but Cowichan dominated the rainy second half. Cooper Barry scored the eventual game-winner on a free in the 60th minute, and Josh Cuthbert, who came in as a substitute in the 70th minute, scored five minutes later on a phenomenal individual effort.
“That was an amazing goal,” Martin said. “Josh dribbled around the box, and no one could catch him.”
Holding the upper hand, Cowichan closed out the game well.
“We kept going at them,” Martin said. “We had chance after chance after chance.”
A lot of those chances were generated by strikers Paddy Nelson and Jordan De Graf, who, almost miraculously, were held off the scoresheet.
“For Paddy and De Graf to not score in that one was incredible,” Martin admitted.
At the other end of the field, Cowichan goalkeeper Joel Wilson made a couple of big saves over the course of the game to keep his team alive.
“He didn’t have a whole lot to do, but he was good when called upon,” Martin said.
Wilson hadn’t started a game in more than a year, so the confidence from Saturday’s victory will help out going into Cowichan’s next game, this coming Saturday against Vancouver club Croatia SC.
Croatia is just two years removed from winning the provincial championship, so Martin isn’t expecting anything easy.
“It should be a real challenge,” he said. “They look like they’ll be a young, fit team. Our pace will pick up.”
Croatia finished fifth in the Vancouver league this year, but they finished sixth in 2014 when they went on to win the provincial title. The team beat Abbotsford 5-4 in overtime in the first round this year, the same team Cowichan defeated on penalty kicks in a first-round thriller in last year’s provincial. tournament,
Cowichan will welcome Croatia to the David Williams Turf at noon next Saturday, and Martin is hoping for a crowd at least as big as the one that turned out for the game against Bays.
“That will get them motivated,” the coach said. “That always gets them going.”