After a scoreless first half, Powell River Villa fell 3-0 to Victoria Highlanders FC at Starlight Stadium in Victoria on Saturday, October 9.
“This is another game where the final score doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We played very well, frustrated all the Highlanders’ efforts in the first half, and really made some key plays throughout to stay in the game. We also never gave up, even in the last few minutes. We’re playing the way we want to, and are improving every game, and that’s important.”
The Highlanders’ first goal came at 63 minutes in the second half, followed quickly by a second at 72 minutes.
“The Highlanders move the ball extremely quickly, and after we got used to that, we were able to keep the game scoreless for a very long time,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “But as we got a bit more fatigued, we started making some minor mistakes, and Highlanders are a team that will capitalize on any mistake.
“Their first two goals [keeper] Scott [McKenzie] had no chance on, and then at 87 minutes, the referee awarded them a penalty shot, and that was it.”
Leach and McDonough felt that Marcus Cramb and Niko Cristante both had excellent games in the midfield, and both commended McKenzie for his exceptional work in net for Villa.
“Scott made some amazing saves throughout the game,” said Leach. “The Highlanders’ coach even commented on one of them to me, saying it was a brilliant play. Without his efforts, and the efforts of the entire defensive line, the score would have been much more like the last time we played the Highlanders.”
Villa’s past games against the Highlanders have been much more lopsided. In 2020, they lost 7-2 at home and 10-0 on the road to the Victoria team.
“It’s very important to keep these games, even our losses, as close as possible, because goals scored against is one part of the way teams are ranked in the Vancouver Island Soccer League,” said McDonough. “And so far this year, even though we’ve just been through one of the tougher patches in our schedule, playing against teams that are very skilled and experienced, we haven’t had any of the high-scoring losses that we’ve had in years before. It’s very encouraging, and means we’re coming into our own as a team.”
Villa has a bye this weekend, which Leach and McDonough will use to squeeze in an extra practice for the team in preparation for its VISL match against Juan de Fuca All Flows in Langford on Sunday, October 24. Villa returns home Saturday, October 30, to host Cowichan FC at Timberlane Park. The game starts at 1:30 pm, and tickets will be available at the gate.
“The next few games we’re playing teams that are closer to us in the standings, so we’re looking to come away with a few wins,” said McDonough. “We’ll be taking the extra time to prepare, work on fitness and endurance, and enjoy not travelling for a week.”