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Cowichan Axis FC eliminates Powell River Villa from Jackson Cup

Vancouver Island Soccer League clubs will meet again for final regular season game in three weeks
PERFECT PUNCH: Powell River Villa goalkeeper Matt Liknes makes a save off a corner kick during a Jackson Cup match against Cowichan Axis FC on Saturday, February 11. Villa lost the game in a penalty shootout after finishing regulation time tied 0-0.

Powell River Villa lost to Cowichan Axis FC 1-0 in the round of 16 of the Jackson Cup on Saturday, February 11, at Timberlane Park after a scoreless game went straight to a penalty shootout.

“It’s a tough way to lose, but that’s what happens when you aren’t able to capitalize on your scoring chances during regulation play,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We’re well matched with Cowichan – our last game also ended in a 0-0 tie – but it was a disappointing way to be eliminated from the Jackson Cup.”

Villa had several excellent scoring chances, but bad luck and key saves by the Cowichan keeper kept the club off the score sheet for 90 minutes.

“We had five or six glorious chances that I can think of,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “There was a crossbar hit by James [Timothy], another ball that came across to Cullen [Buholzer] who one-timed it right at the keeper, another where Cullen passed to Ori [Fisher] who hit it past the goalpost, then Jake [Kenmuir] came in from the sideline and bounced it off a defender, and that was just in the first half alone. It was an exciting game to watch, definitely.”

Recent rule changes sent the tied teams directly into penalty shots, where Villa took an early lead, but Cowichan outscored the home team four goals to three to win the game and proceed to the quarterfinals, where they face Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Division 1 leaders Lakehill FC this weekend.

“Even though we lost, we still kept up the level of play we’ve shown the last several games,” said McDonough. “Defensively we were solid again, and achieved our fourth straight shutout in a row in regulation time, thanks to good goalkeeping by Matt [Liknes] and excellent work from Nick [Van’t Schip] and Chico [Richard Murphy], and the rest of the defensive line.

“Our midfielders and offensive line also worked hard to create chances and wear down their defence. We’ve come a long way from where we were at the beginning of the season; each game is consistently a great team effort.”

Villa has one more regular season VISL game to play, a rematch against Cowichan scheduled for Saturday, March 4, at Timberlane. Kickoff is at 1:30 pm, and tickets will be available at the gate. Season’s passes are valid for this game.

“While we would have preferred to keep going in the Jackson Cup, our next game is really more important than this one was,” said Leach. “Based on the work rate we’ve seen from the team in this last part of the season, I’m confident it will be another exciting game, and maybe this time we’ll see a few more balls in the back of Cowichan’s net.”

Villa leads Cowichan by four points in the standings, however Cowichan has two more regular season games to play, so a win is vital for Villa’s hopes for the 2023/2023 season.

“Our goal was to finish mid-table and avoid relegation, and we’re in a good position to do that,” said McDonough. “All the focus goes to our final game. We’ve got some time to rest up, bring some players back from injury, and finish the season strong in our final game.”


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