Sometimes all you need is a break to regroup. That’s all the Cowichan Cougars Over 30 A women’s soccer team needed to turn their luck around. They started 2023 off on the right foot with a 4-1 victory over division rivals Prospect Lake on Jan. 13.
After a slow start to the season due to injuries and players retiring, the 2022 provincial champions had a strong showing in their first game after an extended holiday break.
“It has been a while since we played due to the snow and the break,” admitted coach Darian Achurch. “Sometimes a break like that is tough to recover from, but it could also be exactly what is needed.”
It looked to be the latter for Cowichan, as they pressured Prospect Lake early and were rewarded with a goal by Colleen Dougan in the fifth minute.
“It was a great passing play set up by Mel Findlater and Monni Savory,” Dougan said. “I was the lucky person on the end of the passes and just wanted to get it on net.”
Ali Garnett doubled the lead 10 minutes later in her first game back from injury after another string of quality passes by the Cougars. Cowichan gave up a penalty shot goal at the 20 minute mark but regained their two-goal cushion after a great individual effort by midfielder Ashley Stultz. After the half, it was Findlater’s turn to score with a curling shot that banked in off the post.
With the win, Cowichan moves into a tie with Prospect and Vic West for third place and will next play league-leading Castaways on Sunday at home at 2 p.m.
Cowichan FC, presented by The Society Barbershop and Cafe, returned to action on Sunday, dropping a 1-0 decision to undefeated league leaders Lakehill Reds. Cowichan was put under pressure early but resilient play from their midfield and defence limited Lakehill’s chances.
Cowichan began to grow into the game as the half wore on, and started to probe the Lakehill half, but a few misplaced passes ended some promising moves. Cowichan implemented a change of formation in the second half, and they were able to gain more possession and push forward. Against the run of play, Lakehill was able to earn a corner, and the kick found the head of league-leading goal scorer Kymber Gale, who was able to power a header over the line.
Cowichan pressed forward to find an equalizer, but were unable to penetrate the Lakehill defence. The best chance for Cowichan fell to Jada Hill, as she was sent off on a partial breakaway by a perfectly weighted ball from Cade Smith. Hill was caught by a Lakehill defender as she reached the Lakehill 18-yard box.
“Last year the Reds were playing two tiers above us,” explained coach Adam Paulson. “We played the Reds earlier in the year, and we barely made it out of our half. It was heartening to see the progress made in the last few months. We are still missing a couple of key pieces due to injury, and if we can get them back, I am confident that we can compete with anyone in this league.”
Cowichan returns home to play Prospect Lake Sunday at 12 p.m. at Sherman Road.
The Cowichan Cobras Division 3 women’s soccer squad have been on the pitch twice in the New Year, each time with differing results. In their first game against Fernwood City on Sunday Jan. 8, the ladies lost 3-0. Despite struggling to find the net, the team put forward a good effort and worked hard to shake the rust off after a very long winter break. Jizelle Balae stepped up to fill in as goalie while Page Hart was selected player of the game by her teammates for her strong defensive play during the game.
The team’s second game against JDF Adrenaline Saturday Jan. 14 was a different story. The Cowichan squad controlled much of the match with excellent passing and on-field communication in a 1-0 victory. The team’s goal started with a sideline run by Marissa Morris, who crossed the ball from the corner into the box where Sabrina Elliott made contact and found the back of the net.
Kelsey Thorne and Hannah McKevitt moved between the forward and defensive positions during the game showing their versatility with Thorne being selected player of the game by her teammates. Up next for the Cobras is a Jan. 21 home game against Sooke.