Teams set for Jackson Cup quarterfinals

With home games this weekend, both of Cowichan’s senior men’s soccer teams have a chance to advance to the Jackson Cup tournament semifinals.

Cowichan FC, the Valley’s Div. 1 entry and tournament champions in 2011 and 2012, will get the first opportunity when they play their quarterfinal match against Div. 2 Saanich Fusion on Saturday night at the Ladysmith turf, kicking off at 7 p.m. Cowichan United will take on their Div. 2 rivals from Nanaimo at Evans Park on Sunday at 2 p.m. This will be Cowichan FC’s third game of the tournament, as they have already gotten past Div. 2 teams from Gorge and Gordon Head.

“We’re climbing the Div. 2 ladder,” FC head coach Glen Martin noted. “We’ve gone from the bottom to the middle to the top.” Having not played since Feb. 22, and with few chances to train because of snowy fields, Cowichan is a bit rusty, Martin admitted. The team was forced to practice in Victoria earlier this week, a first in FC history.

Cowichan United, who are playing their first Jackson Cup game after a bye through the first round, struggled down the stretch in league play, having just eight players available for their last game, but numbers are looking better for the cup run. Robbie Martin, Matt Fitzgibbon, Nick Crichton and Daryl Kobe are all expected back in the lineup this weekend.

United finished two spots ahead of Nanaimo in the Div. 2 standings and the teams split their two regular-season meetings.

“I am very optimistic of our chances,” coach Neall Rowlings said.

Cowichan’s senior women’s team will make another attempt to play their first Doug Day Cup game this weekend. They are scheduled to visit Castaways FC on Sunday.