The Cowichan Valley U18 Silver boys soccer team made history recently by becoming the first from the area to capture both the Lower Island Soccer Association league and cup titles.
Cowichan claimed the LISA Cup with a win over a combined Prospect Lake/Peninsula team on Feb. 24, then were officially named league champions earlier this month when it was determined that no one else could catch them in the standings.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Cowichan coach Josh Crawford said.
After an extended layoff due to weather conditions, Cowichan returned to action for the final and defeated Prospect/Peninsula 2-1.
Aaron Dewit opened the scoring on a set piece, but Prospect/Peninsula answered back with a header that squeaked over the line.
The winning goal came on a dramatic play with about 15 minutes left in the match. Prospect/Peninsula came down the field on a counter and had the numbers advantage, but Cowichan keeper Isaac Groom made a huge stop, then ran out with the ball and rolled it to midfielder Tristan Price.
Price worked a give-and-go with Aydan Crawford-Starter, then made a stretch pass to Nick Mendenhall, who made no mistake and blew the ball past the Prospect/Peninsula goalie.
“It went end to end in about five seconds,” Crawford recalled. “It was a beautiful play. It caught them all off guard.”
Cowichan sat back and defended for the remainder of the match.
“We held them off with some amazing defensive play,” Crawford said. “They kept the pressure on, but the boys didn’t quit.”
League play was interrupted by the weather, and not every game was played, but Cowichan finished well in front of second-place Saltspring, winning 13 matches and losing two.
Because they won both the league and LISA Cup titles, the Cowichan silver boys were invited to play in the U17/U18 Gold District Cup tournament. If they win that title, they will qualify directly for the provincial championships.
“To win like this and get pulled into a draw with teams like these who practice two or three times a week, it’s a big deal for these boys,” Crawford said.
Cowichan will play host to Juan de Fuca this Sunday in the District Cup semifinals, and Crawford, who has been coaching most of this group for six or seven years, is optimistic about their chances.
“When we play as a team, no one can beat us,” he said. “It’s pretty fun to watch.”