Despite hard work and many scoring chances, Powell River Villa lost 3-2 against Cowichan FC on Saturday, October 30, at Timberlane Park.
“It was disappointing to lose, but as a team we’re playing much better this year than we have in the last three or four, and we have to be proud of that,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “We’re coming from a place where we haven’t won many games in the last several seasons. It’s going to take a few wins to change our mentality, but our work rate and skills are there, so we’re looking at the next couple games to make that shift.”
Cowichan opened the scoring at 18 minutes, the only goal in the first half. Niko Cristante, Villa’s captain, answered that goal at 49 minutes before Cowichan scored off a penalty kick at 62 minutes. James Timothy tied the game again three minutes later, but then Cowichan took advantage of an uncleared rebound to retake the lead at 70 minutes.
“I felt like we competed well, but we had a couple bad giveaways,” said Nick Van’t Schip, who returned to Villa’s midfield lineup earlier in October. “Spirits are really high, and the positivity is great. Everyone is encouraging each other to keep digging for the ball. We have the fastest defensive line I’ve seen since I’ve been playing for Villa, and it’s definitely a team effort every game.”
The home team took a boost from a season-record crowd of almost 200 fans enjoying the sunshine and excellent soccer.
“I’ve heard from a lot of fans that they’re enjoying coming out to the pitch and watching the games,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “Some supporters tell me this is the best they’ve seen Villa play in a long time, and that it’s always fun to come out and see what’ll happen next. I know the team appreciates the support, and it helps keep us pushing right to the very end of the game, win or lose.”
Goalkeeper Matt Liknes was unfortunately injured late in the second half, and Scott McKenzie stepped into goal for the remainder of the game. McDonough and Leach had praise for both keepers, as well as Cristante, Richard (Chico) Murphy, Grant Campbell and Marcus Cramb for their performances during the game.
“Marcus is really developing as a player,” said Leach. “One of his scoring chances came out of a clearance kick, which isn’t something that happens too often. He hustled to get to the ball ahead of Cowichan and made a great shot on goal that the Cowichan keeper had to use all his skill to keep out of the net.
“Getting a scoring chance after a set play or a good series of passes is one thing, but being able to convert something like that into a chance really shows how much skill he’s developing.”
The next two games are crucial for Villa, who have dropped to ninth place in Vancouver Island Soccer League’s Division 1 with five points. The club travels to Comox on Saturday, November 6, to play Comox Valley United, who are in eighth place with seven points, then returns to Timberlane on Saturday, November 13, to play Gorge FC, in 10th place with three points.
“This weekend’s game is really a six-point game, as Comox is only two points ahead of us,” said McDonough. “Our training sessions are going well and our fitness has been the best it’s been in a long time. If we keep doing the things we’re doing, we’ll get results in our coming games.”