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Powell River Villa advances to provincial cup quarterfinals

Soccer team wins emotional game in front of hometown fans
Greg Smith
BALL BATTLE: Powell River Villa player Greg Smith battles for ball possession with two Fraser Valley Blue Devils in BC Soccer Provincial B Cup soccer action at Timberlane Park on Sunday, April 22. Villa advanced to the provincial quarter-final round with a 2-1 win in extra time. Alicia Baas photo

In a game full of drama, Powell River Villa soccer club defeated Fraser Valley Blue Devils 2-1 in extra time on April 22 to advance to the quarterfinals of the BC Soccer Provincial B Cup.

With about 200 boisterous hometown fans behind them, Villa scored first in the opening half on a set play from Jake Kenmuir, Villa’s attacking midfielder and reigning Vancouver Island Soccer Association (VISL) Division 3A MVP. Kenmuir kicked a corner to veteran striker Kye Taylor, who finished the play with a classic header.

The Blue Devils tied the score at 1-1 with ten minutes remaining in regulation time, but Kenmuir scored the winning goal in overtime.

Greg Smith assisted on Kenmuir’s goal. On a run down the right side, Smith beat his opponent and set up Kenmuir for a nice, easy tap-in winner.

Smith is a big addition to Villa’s lineup. He previously played for University of BC Thunderbirds and professionally in Europe with German Bundesliga side Energie Cottbus. He also represented Canada at the U17 level.

Villa coach Chris McDonough said, to put Smith’s skill level into perspective, he was playing about eight divisions higher than the level Julius Ulrich was playing in Germany. Ulrich was a standout with Villa and a top-ten scorer in VISL Division 3A last year before returning to Germany.

“Greg has moved to Powell River and is working as a physiotherapist,” said McDonough. “We’re excited to have him on board for the provincial cup run.”

Sunday’s game was the most exciting match Villa has played this year. The home team had flashes of playing well but the rust did show from not having played a game since winning the Division 3A title two and a-half months ago. Villa missed numerous chances and came up against a strong goalkeeper for the Blue Devils.

“Their goaltender was amazing, really,” said McDonough. “He made a bunch of crazy saves and kept us to 1-0.”

It was a physical and heated game with emotions running high on both sides, particularly at the end of the match with a lot of back and forth chatter between the players.

“They were probably not expecting to come up here and lose to a small-town team up in the middle of nowhere,” said McDonough. “These guys came really prepared, coming up the night before, and they had a big lineup. They gave us a really tough game.”

Villa plays its provincial cup quarter-final match against Fraser Valley Red Devils at 12 pm on Sunday, April 29, at Timberlane Park.