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Powell River Villa hosts Victoria Highlanders in first-place showdown

Top two VISL Division 2 teams go head-to-head in crucial game on Saturday
Caleb Vallance Powell River Villa
CRUCIAL CONTEST; Caleb Vallance [left] and Kye Taylor [right] were not available for Villa coach Chris McDonough when the team lost 1-0 in their first meeting with Victoria Highlanders earlier this season. David Brindle photo

Powell River Villa FC starts its stretch run in Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 2 at home on Saturday, January 19.

“Every game is crucial,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “This week is probably our biggest test of the season.”

The game is between the two top teams in the division, number one Villa and number two Victoria Highlanders, with only three points separating the two. Six points separate the top five in the 10-team division.

In one of only three defeats so far this season, Villa lost 1-0 to the Highlanders in Victoria.

“They had a bit more speed than us last game and carried a lot of possession, but we had a number of chances and we were just kind of unable to finish,” said McDonough.

McDonough said he was missing quite a few bodies on that road trip, including veteran Kye Taylor, newcomer Richard Murphy, who moved to Powell River from Ireland, and 15 year-old Caleb Vallancewas not with the team.

Highlanders is an academy team of high-school-aged players, well coached, fast, fit and talented, according to McDonough, and their speed is definitely a strength.

“We'll have our hands full,” said the coach. “We're expecting a really tough game.”

The first game between Villa and Highlanders was played on artificial turf, but Saturday’s match takes place on Villa’s home pitch, the grass at Timberlane Park, which is an entirely different surface than what all of the island-based teams play on.

“Villa plays better on grass than we do on turf. The game is a little different on grass and we play on grass more than anyone,” said McDonough. “We're confident playing anywhere but we really like playing at home.”

The team’s record is proof. Villa has not lost a home game yet this season.

Saturday’s game time at Timberlane is 1:30 pm.

Five games remain in the season for Villa, with two at home and three on the road. The top two teams at the end of the season will be promoted to Division 1.

Meanwhile, the draw for the 104th VISL Jackson Cup was announced Monday, January 14. Villa received a bye into the second round.

Seeded number 11, Powell River will play another Division 2 team, Juan de Fuca, the 13th seed. Villa has home field advantage for the game on February 22..

In their only meeting this season, Juan de Fuca handed Villa its largest margin of defeat, winning by a score of 5-0.