Cowichan FC didn’t get the game they expected from Campbell River Cermaq at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday, and they took full advantage of it.
“I was surprised at the game,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “I was surprised by their tactics. I didn’t think they’d sit back and defend, and they did that from the start.”
Cermaq’s strategy didn’t work, as Cowichan rolled to an 8-0 victory. Paddy Nelson was responsible for four goals, bringing his league-leading total to 15, six more than second-place Jon Shah of Gorge FC.
“He was pretty dangerous the whole game,” Martin said.
Nelson opened the scoring at 14 minutes, followed by back-to-back goals by Steve Scott, both on corner kicks. Before the half was over, Nelson made it 4-0.
“They never did try to get goals,” Martin said of the Campbell River team. “That seemed strange to me. They let us play, so we played.”
Nelson completed the hat trick early in the second half, and Cowichan added three more in the waning minutes of the game from Kevan Brown, Craig Gorman, and Nelson again. Cermaq was already tired out from constantly chasing the ball, and things got ugly at the end, as Campbell River lost one player to a red card and another to an injury.
Meanwhile, Cowichan had five players on the bench, one of their best turnouts so far this year. Martin made three subs at halftime, putting in Gorman, Brad Archibald and Andres Algarin, who made his first appearance of the season. Sometimes subs offer reprieve for the opponent, but not this time.
“The three guys I put in were just as strong as the starters, and they were eager to go,” Martin said. “They wanted to prove something because they didn’t start.”
Mason Chang and Farley Cannon also began the game on the bench but got on the pitch with about 30 minutes to go. Martin was pleased to get everyone into the action.
“That will hopefully pay off in the end,” he said.
Goalkeeper Scott Brown finished the game with a clean slate, although he admittedly didn’t have a lot of work to do.
Cowichan is still first in Div. 1 of the Vancouver Island Soccer League, although Martin acknowledges that his team’s hold is tenuous as the top five teams are separated by just four points.
“One slip-up and you can go first to fifth real quick,” the coach said.
Cowichan will face the Vancouver Island Wave this Saturday at noon at Finlayson Park. The Wave are a young team, with one strong veteran player, Blair Sturrock, who is third in league scoring with eight goals. Cowichan hasn’t yet faced the Wave, who sit outside the top five in Div. 1. Martin expects the Wave to play with Finlayson in mind.
“It a big park,” Martin said. “They’re probably thinking that’s to their advantage, but I’m not so sure about that.”