With the game on the line last Saturday, Tyler Hughes almost single-handedly preserved Cowichan LMG’s unbeaten record. Cowichan was trailing host Comox Valley United 2-0 going into the second half when Hughes took over and led his team to a 2-2 draw.
"Tyler went into professional mode," head coach Glen Martin said. "He was turning it on like you wouldn’t believe."
Hughes started carrying the ball and whipping passes from the left side, one of which found Brad Thorne, who buried the ball in the net for Cowichan’s first goal. Hughes later scored the tying goal himself on a free kick, replicating a play from earlier in the year where he didn’t wait for the ref to mark off 10 metres, but instead just booted the ball from where he stood, catching Comox off guard.
As a result of Hughes’s heroics, Cowichan remains without a loss on their season record, the tie being the first blemish.
Part of the reason Cowichan didn’t record its 11th win of the campaign was the fact that they had just 13 players at the game, and that the team hasn’t been training as hard as it did earlier in the year.
"We got there with plenty of time, so it wasn’t weary legs, and it wasn’t the cold weather," he said. "Both teams had to deal with that."
Ten minutes into the game, Cowichan committed a "terrible soccer sin," giving the ball away to Comox.
"They walked right in and scored on their first shot of the game," Martin related. "We kind of dug ourselves a hole."
Comox’s goal marked the first time this season that Cowichan had trailed in a game. LMG played better until late in the half when a defensive breakdown allowed Comox to sneak in and score again. At halftime, Cowichan was trailing an inconceivable 2-0. In the second half, Martin changed to a 4-4-2 formation with Craig Robertson, a longtime Bays player who started this season with Vic West making his Cowichan debut at left back. After about 20 minutes, Hughes switched places with Robertson and started his tear, getting Cowichan back in the contest.
Cowichan nearly managed to pull off the victory. Paddy Nelson beat the Comox goalie with about three minutes to go, but his shot glanced off the crossbar. On the last play of the game, the goalie made a save off Hughes, but the ball bounced to AJ Kambere, who was stopped on his attempt.
"We were lucky to tie it, but we could have won it, too," Martin said.
Cowichan will try to get back in the win column next Saturday when the team visits Lakehill at Braefoot Park.