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Powell River Villa falls to Cowichan in VISL season finale

Fast-paced, high-scoring game thrills crowd at fan appreciation day
GREAT GOAL: Powell River Villa player Ori Fisher [left, in red] celebrates after scoring his first goal during the March 4 game against Cowichan Axis FC. The visitors defeated Villa 4-3 in an exciting game to finish the 2022/23 Vancouver Island Soccer League season.

Powell River Villa lost 4-3 to Cowichan Axis FC in a thrilling and hardfought season closer at Timberlane Park on Saturday, March 4.

“It was a tough way to start the game,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “Being scored on in the first minute of the game is the last thing you want to happen, but responding and tying the game immediately after is a great way of dealing with it.”

Cowichan took the lead almost from the kickoff, but Ori Fisher tied the game in the fourth minute with a quick goal. At 14 minutes, Cowichan scored again to take the lead.

Villa evened up the score when James Timothy put the ball in the net at 16 minutes. The score remained tied 2-2 until Cowichan scored again at 44 minutes to take the lead into halftime.

“It was unfortunate to give up a goal right at halftime, but we had lots of back and forth in the play,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We never gave up, and put in the work to get ourselves back in the game each time.”

At 54 minutes in the second half, Fisher took a penalty kick for Villa and tied the score at 3-3. The teams battled for the deciding goal for much of the remainder of the game, until the referee awarded Cowichan a penalty kick, which beat goalkeeper Matt Liknes at 82 minutes. Despite best efforts from the players, Villa was unable to answer that goal.

“We played really well, and left it all out on the field,” said Kiran Hollmann Prichard, who plays for Villa. “We didn’t really get down on ourselves when we conceded goals. We came back, kept our heads up, and supported each other. The team spirit that we showed today was our best attribute. We finished off a strong season in [Vancouver Island Soccer League] Division 1, and we will be ready to go again next year.”

Villa falls to ninth place in VISL Division 1 standings, in the relegation zone, and will know whether or not they remain in Division 1 in a few weeks, when the top teams in Division 2 decide if they want to challenge for a Division 1 spot.

“All in all, Villa had a pretty good season,” said McDonough. “We made some improvements in performance over last year. For example, we didn’t have any high-scoring losses like we have had in the past, and we took points off some of the top teams, like Nanaimo, Highlanders and division leaders Lakehill. There are lots of positive things to take away, and lots to build on for next year.”

Leach is looking forward to integrating more players from Vancouver Island into Villa next season, after seeing how players such as Fisher have done well in the environment offered by Villa and contributed to the team’s level of play.

“All in all, Villa’s performance this year bodes well for a great 50th anniversary season next year,” said Leach. “We played some really good soccer that was entertaining for those who came out and watched, and that’s what we’ll strive to do for next year.”

The team sends a big thank-you out to the soccer community throughout the qathet region for all the support this season.

“We get more fans out for our games than any other team in the league,” said Prichard. “As a player, it makes a difference to know that we have that support, so thank you for coming out for all the home games, no matter the weather. We’re looking forward to a great season next year.”