United advances to Pearkes Challenge Cup final
In front of their biggest home crowd of the season, the Comox Valley United men's soccer team won their semifinal match in the Pearkes Challenge Cup against Vantreights of Victoria 1-0 in penalty shoot out.
This game was redemption for United as they played the 'Treights twice last weekend in Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 3B league play; tying the first game 0-0 and suffering a disappointing loss 2-1 in the final minutes of game two.
It was a grind for both sides to get the edge early in Sunday's semifinal at lower Mark Isfeld field. Both sides had equal opportunties to gain control of the game, but the goalkeepers on both ends kept their teams level. The teams' third meeting in eight days made for some spirited play, with the referee keeping a close watch on the proceedings.
In the 65th minute centre back Brian Gage took an untimely penalty and was sent off with a red card, leaving United down a man for the rest of the game. No one knew at the time that the game would extend into extra time and then eventually penalty kicks, so United had to dig deep to keep the 'Treights from scoring.
Goalkeeper Tyler Salmond was the man of the match with some unbelievable saves, including two during the shoot out. A close second for United was centre back Dakota Garrett who made the play of the game in the second 15-minute overtime half. With Salmond out of his goal, Garrett fearlessly slid at the post to save both the first shot and then the rebound of what appeared to be a sure goal.
Salmond and his counterpart, Phil Gilbertson, shook hands before the penalty kick shoot out began, and both stood tall. The tension mounted through five attempts by each team. Vantreights hit the post on their sixth shot, but Riley Murray made no mistake for United, and the celebration was on.
"Our teams played 300 minutes of exciting and determined soccer in eight days and there was very little difference determined from the outcome," said Vantreights' manager Bill Murphy. "They're a very classy team and we wish them the best in the cup final."
United takes on Campbell River Golden Wings 3A at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 23 at Royal Atheltic Stadium in Victoria in the final. The winner will be crowned the VISL Challenge Cup champions and earn a berth in the Provincial Cup.
In league play, Comox Valley hosts Cordova Bay Red Barn Bobcats this Sunday, March 17 at 2:15 p.m. at Mark Isfeld. The teams are currently tied for second place with identical 10-2-4 records. United invites fans to come out and cheer them on.
Follow the team online at Facebook.com/CVUnitedSoccerMen
THROW INS The Golden Wings are fifth in Div. 3A with a 5-7-5 record and have marched through Pearkes Challenge Cup play with wins of 11-0 over Lakers 4B, 5-1 over SFFC Active Earth 3A, 1-0 over Hellas 3B, 3-0 over Lakers 3B and 3-0 over Lake Hill DP 4C ...
– with a file from Comox Valley United