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Powell River Villa beats Highlanders in Victoria

Club heads into Jackson Cup tournament play this weekend at home
RUNNING IN: Powell River Villa player Jack Padgett [right, in red] races a Victoria Highlanders player for possession of the ball during the teams’ Vancouver Island Soccer League match on Saturday, January 28. Villa won the game 1-0 over the young academy team.

Powell River Villa took another step toward solidifying its eighth-place rank on the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Division 1 table with a 1-0 win over Victoria Highlanders on Saturday, January 28, in Langford.

“This is the first time we’ve won a league game in Victoria in a long time, so we’re really happy with the result,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “The win helps us out in the standings, and it’s a good confidence booster leading into the Jackson Cup game this weekend.”

Villa scored just before halftime at 42 minutes, with Kalem Lindstrom getting his second goal of the season.

“We were awarded a free kick from about 25 yards out, which Jake [Kenmuir] took and put towards the net very nicely,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “Chico [Richard Murphy] ran in aggressively to try to make a play on the ball, which startled their goalie and he lost momentum. The ball went past both Chico and the goalie, then Kalem got on the end of it and put it in the net. It was a great goal.”

Villa then defended its lead through the second half to claim the win over Highlanders, who are a young academy team.

“We would have liked to score a couple more goals, and we had a few quality chances, but we’re still very happy with the win and the whole game,” said McDonough. “We played a defensive game, but when we got the ball we were dangerous offensively. It was a similar effort from the week before, with good team play, and good passing and defending.”

Both McDonough and Leach praised the defensive line of Nick Van’t Schip, Murphy, James Timothy and Jacob Duyvesteyn, as well as keeper Matt Liknes with his fourth season shutout, for their performance.

“Defence was rock solid; the Highlanders are a fast, young academy team, so it took a lot of great coordination to keep them out of our net,” said Leach. “In the first half, they took a shot from about 20 yards out heading right for the corner; Matt made a great save, but the ball ended up stopping on the end line. James got it and went to clear it and ended up playing it off one of their players.

“It hit Matt and was rolling for the goal line. Jacob got there before any Highlander player and kicked it off the line and to the side of the field. That kind of work helped keep the game scoreless.”

The coaches were also impressed with the performance from Lindstrom with his goal, and Kenmuir, Ori Fisher, Kiran Hollmann Prichard and Cullen Buholzer in the front line and midfield for their solid efforts during the game.

“Cullen ran miles in the game, tracking people down and causing trouble up front,” said Leach, “and Kalem had his best game of the year for us.”

While there is one more regular season game for Villa, it is preempted by Jackson Cup tournament play starting this weekend. Division 2’s Saanich Fusion Bandits travel to Powell River for the round of 32 game on Saturday, February 4.

“We don’t know much about the Bandits, but we expect them to bring a strong side,” said McDonough. “We haven’t had too many Jackson Cup games in Powell River the last few years, and we have home draws almost all the way through, if we keep winning. We’ve made the quarterfinals in the past, and this will be a good opportunity for fans to come out and see cup soccer.”

The match will take place at Timberlane Park at 1:30 pm. Tickets will be available at the gate. Villa season’s passes do not apply for Jackson Cup games.

Should Villa win this weekend, they will host Cowichan Axis FC on Saturday, February 11, at Timberlane.

“Cowichan is also our last regular season opponent, scheduled for March 4, and they are only behind us in the standings by four points with two games to play for them,” said Leach. “Playing them in the Jackson Cup would be a good preview ahead of our regular season game, and hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”