There weren’t many surprises last Sunday afternoon as Cowichan LMG opened their defence of the Jackson Cup — the biggest prize in soccer on Vancouver Island — with a 6-0 win over Powell River Villa at Williams Field.
Cowichan, the best team in Division 1, had little trouble with the Div. 2 Powell River team.
“The game went how we thought it would go,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “They played very defensive. It was park the bus, keep everybody back, and go as long as they could at 0-0.”
That turned out to be about half an hour. In the 30th minute, Cowichan captain Jesse Winter banged in a goal from a scramble just outside the goal line to put his team ahead. A minute later, Steve Scott scored a similar goal.
Not long after that, a Powell River player who had been handed a yellow card for chirping at the ref was given a red card for a nasty tackle on Josh Cuthbert. That sealed Powell River’s fate.
“Behind by two and down a man, it was pretty well game over at that point,” Martin said.
It was still 2-0 at halftime, but Stu Barker scored in the 55th minute, and Cuthbert scored 11 minutes after that. Govinda Innes and Jordan de Graf added penalty shot goals.
Somewhat surprisingly, Vancouver Island Soccer League scoring leader Paddy Nelson was held off the scoresheet despite playing an excellent game.
“It’s a good sign when we get six goals from six different players and our 27-goal scorer didn’t score,” Martin said.
In the first half, Nelson found himself alone in front of a wide open net, only to see his shot stopped by a Powell River player who appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
“That was message to the Wiz,” Martin said. “That was his day right there. He’s played much worse than that and scored three or four goals.”
The game also marked a defensive milestone for Cowichan, who got their first clean sheet against a Div. 2 team in 10 tries going back over the last seven Jackson Cup tournaments. Sam Hutchison did the bulk of the work in goal, but Joel Wilson came in for the last 15 minutes.
LMG will have two weeks off before their next Jackson Cup game on the weekend of March 4-6, when they will be back on the Williams Field turf at home against Nanaimo’s Div. 1 team.
Sadly, any hopes for an all-Cowichan Jackson Cup final were dashed on Saturday evening as Div. 2 side Cowichan United lost 4-0 to Lakehill, the last-place team from Div. 1.
Martin, who was on the sidelines, called it a “strange game.”
“[United] outplayed them and out-chanced [Lakehill],” he said. “But every time they thought they had something going, the other team would go down and score.”
Martin estimated that United controlled possession about 70-30 over Lakehill, and guessed that Cowichan had five or six chances to Lakehill’s three — even though Lakehill scored four goals.
“That happens in soccer,” he said.