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Powell River Villa battles to a 3-3 tie with Bays United

Draw leaves club in fourth place in Vancouver Island Soccer League's Division 1
POSSESSION PURSUIT: Villa player Russell Pielle [centre right, in red] works to intercept a Bays United player during a Vancouver Island Soccer League game at Timberlane Park on September 18.

Powell River Villa battled to a 3-3 tie against Bays United (Victoria) at Timberlane Park on September 18, which leaves the Powell River team sharing fourth place in Vancouver Island Soccer League’s (VISL) Division 1 after two games played.

“We went into halftime with a 2-0 lead, but then we gave up three goals in 11 minutes in the second half,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “There have been times before where, in a similar situation, we’ve folded the tent and given up, so it was good to see us fight back and get that tying goal. It would have been a great game to win, but we’re still happy with a tie.”

Grant Campbell scored Villa’s first goal at 30 minutes in the first half.

“The team gave me a little buildup, and we were making some good passes,” said Campbell. “We found a couple nice open seams, and [captain] Niko [Cristante] put me through. The pass was on my left, my weaker foot, but I got a good strike on the ball, which hit the goalkeeper hard and then flicked in.”

Cristante scored Villa’s second goal at 44 minutes, just before the end of first half. Bays United turned up the pressure on the home team in the second half, scoring three quick goals at 53 minutes, 60 minutes, and 64 minutes to take the lead. Cristante then evened up the score at the 73-minute mark.

“We were disappointed to give up our lead in the span of 10 minutes, certainly,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “But it was very positive that we were able to rally, tie the game, and salvage the point. It really showed our team’s character to come back like that.”

Cristante’s two goals, as well as his midfield work creating chances and battling for possession, led both McDonough and Leach to praise his performance during the game.

McDonough felt that outside-back players Kaizan Hajdrych and Jacob Duyvesteyn also had excellent games, and singled out Campbell for his work out front and his first goal of the season. Leach praised Richard “Chico” Murphy in the midfield, as well as the entire defensive line, and specifically Carl Hanson, for their play during the game.

Villa heads out on the road this weekend, facing Vic West at Finlayson Turf in Victoria.

“We’ll have a small lineup turnover this weekend, with a couple of our Victoria-based players available and some of our Powell River-based players unable to travel, but we’ll still field a strong team,” said McDonough. “We’re tied with Vic West in the division standings right now, but they are one of the top teams in the division. It will be a challenging game, but we’re up for it.”

Villa returns home on Saturday, October 2, to play Victoria’s Lakehill FC, who are currently unbeaten.

“Lakehill will be a big test for us,” said Leach. “It’s going to be a tough game against a very strong team, and we’ll be drawing a lot on the support of our fans. It’ll be a good game to watch, and we’re looking forward to showing Powell River what we can do against one of the best soccer teams in the province.”

Campbell is also looking forward to playing at home again.

“As players, we have to thank the fans for coming out,” he added. “We love seeing everyone at the games, because the support makes us play better. Powell River, if you keep coming out, we’ll keep battling for you.”