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Powell River Villa falls to Westcastle United at home (VIDEO)

Two regular-season games remain in VISL Division 1 season
Rhys Unger Powell River Villa
DAZZLING DEFENCE: Rhys Unger [left] takes possession of the ball in Powell River Villa’s end during the side’s game against Westcastle United February 8 at Timberlane Park. Villa lost the game 4-2 after a strong first half. Vanessa Bjerreskov photo

Powell River Villa lost to second-place Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 1 side Westcastle United at Timberlane Park on Saturday, February 8, by a score of 4-2, making the last two games of the season even more critical for Villa’s Division 1 hopes for next season.

“We’re still very much in it in terms of staying outside of the Division 1 relegation zone,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “This loss puts the pressure on us to come up with a win in each of our next two regular season games. We’ll be looking for wins and goals in both games; that’s really all we can do.”

Villa is currently ninth in Division 1 with two games to play due to weather cancellations in early 2020. They must win both games to have a chance of remaining in Division 1 for next season.

The game against Westcastle United started well, with Villa holding the visiting team scoreless in the first half while scoring one of its own. Karson Kroetsch, who started playing with Villa this year, scored Villa’s first goal at 25 minutes.

“Before the goal, I was on a breakaway and missed that chance, and a couple balls got away from me as well,” said Kroetsch. “I knew that I wanted to make up for that, so when Kye (Taylor) had a free kick, I ran as fast as I could for the rebound and smashed it in with my left foot.”

The team played with a lot of energy in the first half, and was evenly matched with Westcastle, according to McDonough.

“We absorbed their pressure and were able to counter for some chances,” he added, “and didn’t really give them many scoring opportunities. In the second half, though, we got a little more stretched.”

Westcastle scored off a penalty kick at 51 minutes, then added two more goals at 75 and 78 minutes in the second half. Villa responded with a goal from Kye Taylor at 79 minutes, but a fourth goal for Westcastle at 80 minutes secured the victory for the visitors.

“Things were going our way in the first half, and at times in the second half, too,” said Kroetsch. “Kye had an amazing goal to try to keep us in the game.”

McDonough was impressed with Taylor’s overall performance, and that of centre back Rhys Unger.

“Kye (Taylor) had another excellent game; he has been one of our top strikers all year, and this was his fourth goal of the season,” said McDonough. “Rhys Unger, who plays centre back, had a very strong defensive game as well. He did a good job shutting down their players and winning some tackles.”

Villa is scheduled for home games for the rest of the season. They face last-place Mid Isle Mariners on Saturday, February 15, then welcome Vic West FC for the first game of the Sir John Jackson Cup tournament on Saturday, February 22. Kickoff for both games is 1:30 pm at Timberlane Park.

The final game of the regular season, where Villa will play fourth-place Cowichan FC, will be scheduled based on both teams’ availability as play for the Jackson Cup progresses.