In what one spectator called the most exciting game played at Timberlane Field in the last 10 years, Powell River Villa held Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 1 leaders Lakehill FC to one goal in a 1-0 loss at home on October 2.
“We didn’t deserve to lose, but Lakehill didn’t deserve to lose either,” said Richard “Chico” Murphy, who plays for Villa. “With everything that happened – going down the goal in the first half, then hitting the crossbar and posts several times, and having our goal disallowed – we didn’t give up. We stayed positive and kept going, and that’s fantastic.”
Lakehill’s goal came at 40 minutes into the first half. Both teams had numerous chances, including several post and crossbar hits, penalty kicks, and in Villa’s case, both a goal disallowed due to an infringement in front of the defensive wall and a breakaway ended prematurely when Lakehill’s goalkeeper pulled down Niko Cristante, leading to a red card for the keeper.
“I was over the moon with the effort everybody put in,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “The level of intensity, pursuit of the ball, and desire to get that tying goal never left them, and it really was a very near thing. People will look at the score and think, oh, Lakehill went to Powell River and beat them, but in this case, that is just the smallest part of the story.”
Villa hasn’t had a good history when playing against Lakehill. In the abbreviated 2020 season, they fell to the Victoria team 5-0 at home and 8-0 on the road. In 2019, Lakehill beat the Powell River team 9-1 at home and 9-2 on the road.
“This result, even though it was a loss, really shows how much we’ve improved,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “I’m really happy with the way we played on the weekend, and with the fight we showed throughout the game. It was great to raise our play to a higher level.”
Both McDonough and Leach praised the entire team for its play, including Scott McKenzie in net, the defensive line for its exceptional work holding Lakehill to one goal, and Cristante and James Timothy in the front.
“Everybody brought their top game,” said McDonough. “It’s one of our best performances in recent memory.”
Villa is on the road this weekend, heading to Victoria to face Victoria Highlanders FC at Starlight Stadium on Saturday, October 9.
“The Highlanders are a fit, young, strong team, and they beat us quite handily on the road and at home last year,” said Leach. “Hopefully we’ll be able to travel with most of our starting lineup and show them the kind of play we demonstrated this weekend.”
Villa has a bye the following weekend before returning to Victoria on October 23 to face Juan de Fuca All Flows. The team then returns to Timberlane Field on October 30 for a game against Cowichan FC. The game begins at 1:30 pm, and tickets will be available at the gate.
“The crowd here this weekend really built us up and kept us fighting,” said Murphy. “We might have lost, but everyone had so much fun watching us, it really helped our energy. The whole team really appreciates Powell River’s support, and we love seeing everyone out when we play at home.”