Glen Martin’s off-season recruiting efforts didn’t take long to pay off.
In Cowichan LMG’s first game of the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 season, newcomers Paddy Nelson and Cooper Barry showed precisely why Martin was so excited to add them to his roster as they led their new squad to a 7-1 romp over Westcastle United in Victoria last Saturday.
Nelson scored three times and Barry added two goals to power Cowichan to a convincing victory. Dan Cato, a mainstay with Cowichan for the last couple of years, also scored a pair.
"I didn’t think they’d be scoring like that in their first game," Martin acknowledged. The three scorers, he said, could have had four goals apiece if they converted on all their opportunities.
"We scored on seven of our 12 chances, so that’s a pretty high percentage of finishing," Martin allowed.
Because of some of those missed chances, Cowichan didn’t score until about the 30-minute mark. The floodgates were open after that, and the team held a 5-0 lead before Westcastle was able to score.
Newly promoted from Div. 2, Westcastle didn’t add any new players as they jumped to a new level of soccer, which was a mistake, Martin feels.
"They were basically the same team as they were last year, the second-place Div. 2 team," he said.
The case is similar for Comox Valley United, who Cowichan will play in their home opener this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Sherman Road fields. Also promoted from Div. 1 after last season, Comox added only one player to their roster. Martin still expects more from them than he saw from Westcastle last weekend.
"I expect them to battle hard," he said. "It should be a harder game than the Westcastle game."
Cowichan’s own Div. 2 squad, Cowichan United, also opened their season last Saturday,
losing 3-1 at home to FC Sagres Highlanders.
Coach Ryan Flynn said the game was what he was expecting.
"They are a well-coached and structured team with a lot of youth and speed," Flynn said.
United was missing four starters, including three who play in the middle of the field, and Flynn was pleased with the way his other players executed without them.
"With the lineup we had it was a positive game," he said. "The guys put the effort in, but were forced into spots that they normally would not be in."
With Cowichan’s goal coming from Conor Williams on a penalty shot, the score was tied 1-1 at halftime, but a five-minute lapse in concentration cost Cowichan two goals.
Goalkeeper Darian Achurch made back-to-back-to-back saves to keep his team in the game, garnering applause from fans on both sides of the battle.
Up next for Cowichan United is a road game against the Gordon Head Blazers on Friday.
Also playing this weekend is Cowichan’s new Masters B team, who will make their season debut at home against SFFC Orange this Saturday at 5 p.m. at McAdam Park.