Powell River Villa has jumped out of the relegation zone in Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Division 1 standings with its 2-1 victory over Comox Valley United in Courtenay on Saturday, November 6.
“Once again, we really gelled as a team on the field, and we were able to get the win as a result,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “I’m really happy with the effort everyone put in, and this win helps us be where we want to be in the standings as we come up on the halfway point of the season.”
Villa’s first goal came at 35 minutes in the first half, scored by captain Niko Cristante.
“Niko had a few chances earlier in the game, and with this one, he was aware of the goalie’s position and was able to take advantage,” said McDonough. “He put it into the top corner from about 20 yards out to give us the first goal of the game.”
Russell Pielle scored Villa’s second goal early in the second half, putting it past the keeper at 57 minutes.
“Russell’s goal actually happened against the run of play,” said McDonough. “He intercepted a Comox pass, took the ball off his man, and made a straight line for the goal. I was really pleased to see him take that kind of opportunity when it presented itself and get a goal as a result.”
Comox then scored at 67 minutes, foiling goalkeeper Devin Cleghorn’s chance at a shutout.
“This was Devin’s first game with us, but he’s been an outstanding keeper for the Brooks Secondary School Thunderbirds,” said McDonough. “He put in a solid performance in this game, and was a key part of our win.”
McDonough also had high praise for the defensive line, including Kaizan Hajdrych and Grant Campbell, and Richard “Chico” Murphy in the midfield.
“Griffin Leach also had a great game,” said McDonough. “He made some key tackles on the wing, and moved the ball well. He’s getting better and better every game.”
Villa’s November 13 home game against Gorge FC has been postponed due to a change in this Saturday’s ferry schedule, and will instead be played in March. The postponement means Villa will end the season with a four-game home stand, but now heads into a three-game away schedule, the toughest stretch of the season, according to McDonough.
“The next three games are huge, because they are against teams that are close to us in the standings, so it’s important that we get wins or draws to stay out of the relegation zone,” he said. “First up is Nanaimo on November 20; they are five points ahead of us in the standings, so that’ll be a key game. Then we go up against Westcastle on November 27; even though they’re currently in last place, they’re a better team than their record shows, so that’ll be a tough match.”
The road stretch ends with a match against Bays United on December 4 before Villa returns to Timberlane Park on Saturday, December 11, to face Vic West FC.