A full team effort and a clever ploy by head coach Glen Martin combined to give Cowichan LMG a 3-1 win over Bays United at Keserich Field last Saturday afternoon.
Martin opted to play the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 match on the grass pitch instead of the turf, which helped slow down the high-powered Bays squad, while the Cowichan players put in an impressive team performance.
“Obviously, that was by design,” Martin said of playing on the grass field. “We had a good game plan and everybody bought into it. It’s amazing what you can do when everybody is on the same page, buying in and executing.”
It’s a rare luxury that Cowichan has, being able to play on turf or grass, depending on the situation, and Martin’s strategy paid off.
“Other clubs don’t have that choice,” he said. “Playing on grass doesn’t mean we’re going to win. I just thought we’d have a better chance of equalizing the game and getting a better result.”
Cowichan struck first with a first-half goal by veteran Steve Scott, but weren’t satisfied to sit back on defence and win by a goal.
“We came out stronger in the second half than we did at the start of the game, even,” Martin said. “I think they were surprised that we came out in the second half the way we did.”
Igor Liah played a big part in the second-half surge. First, he was pulled down in the box for a penalty kick. Govinda Innes was stopped on the original shot, but Colin Knight jumped in to bury the rebound. Liah later added a goal of his own. Along with Devin Jack and Adyn Lamont, Liah was one of three players called up from U21 Cowichan United for the match.
The match marked the return to a Cowichan pitch of Paddy Nelson, Cooper Barry and Craig Gorman, who spent four successful years with LMG before joining Bays prior to this season. Barry ended up scoring Bays’ lone goal in the second half.
“It was kind of emotional, in a way,” Martin commented. “Before the game started, they came by our dressing room for a hug and a handshake. We had a lot of good times together, a lot of wins, a lot of goals. We don’t have any animosity toward them at all.
“We’re not mad at them going to Bays. We don’t like Bays, but we don’t like anyone we play. It’s always been that way.”
Knight earned game MVP for his hard work at centre midfield, while the back line of Innes, Lamont, Jordan Korven and Jose Muro had a terrific game.
“It’s just one game, but it was a big game for us,” Martin said. “They’re one of the top teams in the league. I consider them the most talented team in the league.”
Cowichan is now tied with Bays for third in Div. 1, although Cowichan has a game in hand. The team’s next game is on the road against the second-place Mid Isle Mariners at the Ladysmith Turf, this Saturday at 6 p.m. It will almost be like a home game, Martin noted, as Cowichan played regularly on the field for several years before the Sherman Road turf was built, although only Scott and Kevan Brown are still around from those days.