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Powell River Villa fights back for a 2-2 draw with Cowichan FC

All goals scored in last 30 minutes of Vancouver Island Soccer League match

Powell River Villa came back from a two-goal deficit late in the game to achieve a 2-2 tie with Cowichan FC on January 16 in their first game of 2022 at Sherman Road Turf in Duncan.

“We had a good first half, with play very even between the teams,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “Cowichan tried to press us, but we were pretty solid throughout the midfield. Overall, we were happy to reach the half with no score on either side.”

In the second half, Cowichan opened the scoring at 57 minutes, then followed up with another goal at 65 minutes.

“Both goals came about the same way, with a bit of traffic in front of our net,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We attempted to clear the ball, it went through a few passes but ended up in front of a Cowichan player, who was able to put it into our net. It was a little disheartening to give up two goals so late in the game and so quickly, but the team didn’t give up.”

Villa rallied six minutes later, with a goal from Marcus Cramb off a free kick at 71 minutes.

“Griffin [Leach] was taken down in the midfield, so we were awarded a free kick,” said Leach. “Niko [Cristante] took the kick, and Chico [Richard Murphy] made a header to Marcus [Cramb], who made a nice kick into the corner of the Cowichan net. Then, seven minutes later, we had a beautiful passing play down the left side, ending with Niko, who beat his defender and put the ball into the net to tie the game.”

Villa then switched to a slightly more defensive stance, and despite a last-minute scoring chance from Cristante that was barely deflected over the Cowichan crossbar, the game ended with a 2-2 score.

“We were very happy to come away with a point from this game, especially as Cowichan is currently in sixth place in the division,” said McDonough. “Because there will be three teams relegated to Division 2, we are aiming to climb to eighth place before the end of the season. We have a lot of big games coming up where we need to come away with a win, starting with Comox this week. Comox is only one point ahead of us in the standings, so a win there will make a big difference for us.”

Villa faces Comox Valley United at Timberlane Park on Saturday, January 22, marking only the second time the team has played at home since November 6. The game begins at 1:30 pm; tickets will be available at the gate. Villa will be on the road to meet Gorge FC Saturday, January 29, but play the rest of their regular season games at home.

Matches were also recently drawn for the Jackson Cup. Villa received a bye in the round of 32, and will face Division 2’s Juan de Fuca Hellas in Langford on February 27. In addition, Villa captain Niko Cristante was named to the Vancouver Island Soccer League All Star team. The VISL All Stars will play the Fraser Valley Soccer League All Star team at a later date.

“We’re thrilled that the league has honoured Niko for his efforts this season,” said McDonough. “He’s currently seventh in scoring for the division, and has had a fantastic season for us.”