In their bid for their first Sir John Jackson Cup title since 2016, Cowichan LMG will have a tough road.
Cup brackets for the Vancouver Island Soccer League and Lower Island Women’s Soccer Association were posted last week, including the prestigious Jackson Cup, which Cowichan won four times between 2011 and 2016. It is the team’s goal to return to the championship game, but it won’t be easy.
Although LMG is seeded fourth out of 20 Jackson Cup hopefuls, the random draw has put them into a play-in game against seventh-seeded Juan de Fuca at the Sherman Road turf on Feb. 14. A win in that game sends Cowichan to the second round against top-seeded Lakehill.
The way the draw played out, some good teams will fall by the wayside in the early going this year, but Martin expects that, once it’s over, the most deserving club will win.
“The cream still rises to the top in these tournaments,” he said.
Five teams from the VISL will qualify for the provincial tournament, with guarantees to both Jackson Cup finalists and the remaining spots filled out by the top teams in league standings. Currently fourth in their league, with no hope of finishing first, LMG is taking aim at another cup title.
“We’re not worried about the league,” Martin said. “We’ll focus on the Jackson Cup, winning that trophy. We have lots of bodies this year, and it’s the healthiest we’ve been. I think we’re in good shape going in.”
Any hope for an all-Cowichan final in the over-35 Tony Grover Cup tourney was dashed when the draw laid out a match between the 49ers and Steelheads in a play-in game on Feb. 15. The 49ers have three Tony Grover Cups in three years of existence, but the surging Steelheads will look to play spoiler against their cross-town rivals.
There is still hope for an all-Cowichan Valley final in the George Pearkes Challenge Cup as fifth-seeded Cowichan Farm Store Fury and 17th-seeded Quw’utsun FC are on opposite sides of that draw. Quw’utsun will host a play-in game against Juan de Fuca Blue on the weekend of Feb. 7-9, while the Fury host Vic West in a first-round match on the weekend of Feb. 21-23.
Both Cowichan entries in the LIWSA are contending for the Stephanie Shergold Cup, which begins with pool play on the weekend of Feb. 21-23. The O30A Cougars and Div. 2 United are in separate pools to start, so an all-Cowichan final remains possible.