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Powell River Villa finishes 2021 with loss to Lakehill

Reduced lineup makes great showing against top team in Vancouver Island Soccer League

Powell River Villa played its last game of 2021 on Saturday, December 18, against first-place Lakehill in Victoria, and despite a severely reduced lineup, managed to hold the top team to a score of 4-0.

“We only had nine players available to travel, but we were able to call up two players from the Vancouver Island Wave team of the high-performance league, and they gelled really well with the team on the field,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager.

“Most of the players we had for this game were teenagers, so the experience of playing Lakehill will serve them well in the new year.”

There was only one goal in the first half, when Lakehill scored at 11 minutes.

“Our defensive line made an error, and Lakehill was able to capitalize on that and score,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “While we did spend a lot of time in our end, we weren’t hemmed in the whole time, which we have been in other seasons.

“We had Richard Murphy in centre back for this game, and because he was able to make long passes out of the back, their defence wasn’t able to move up and pen us in. We had a lot of great chances, and two glances off the crossbar during the game that unfortunately didn’t spin into their goal, but all that definitely kept Lakehill on their toes.”

Lakehill scored again early in the second half, when another Villa defensive error at 47 minutes allowed the Victoria team to increase its lead to 2-0.

“Without those errors, we would have been able to hold the score even closer, which says a lot for the quality of our play,” said McDonough. “All things considered, it was a good effort and a good learning experience for all our young players, some of whom haven’t gotten a full 90 minutes too often this year.”

As the young Villa team grew fatigued later in the game, Lakehill was able to score two more goals, at 62 and 87 minutes, to round out the scoring at 4-0.

“Scott Mackenzie played an amazing game in goal, and the score would have been much more lopsided without him,” said Leach. “He stood on his head for a bunch of those saves, at least five or six in the second half alone.”

Villa now has a break until Sunday, January 16, when the club plays Cowichan FC in Duncan. The game is one of only two on the road for Villa in the new year as the team finishes the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) 2021/2022 schedule.

“We had a brutal schedule up to Christmas, with five out of six games on the road,” said McDonough. “We used up a lot of our energy and resources getting through it, so we have to come back and get some results in the new year, but we know this is the more favourable part of the schedule. We’re excited to be through the hard patch, to take this break, and come back revitalized in the new year.”

Villa returns to Timberlane Park on Saturday, January 22, to host Comox Valley United. Game time is 1:30 pm and tickets will be available at the gate.

“The teams around us in the standings are still within reach, so we have an opportunity to stay in Division 1 next year with some hard work,” said Leach. “If we can run together a few wins, we’ll definitely be able to pull it off, and having a four-game home stretch to end the season will go a long way to helping us do that.”