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VIDEO: Powell River Villa falls to Westcastle United in Victoria

Close Vancouver Island Soccer League game ends with second-half defensive collapse, five unanswered goals
FIRST GOAL: Griffin Leach [right, front] celebrates scoring his first Vancouver Island Soccer League goal with his teammates during Powell River Villa’s 8-3 loss to Westcastle United on Saturday, November 27.
A torrential downpour in Victoria on the evening of Saturday, November 27, did not make matters easier for either team during Powell River Villa’s 8-3 loss to Westcastle United.

“Until the last 20 minutes, it was a very exciting, close game,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We traded goals back and forth, and were tied at the end of 70 minutes, but we lost momentum, and Westcastle was able to capitalize on that.”

Scoring started at 17 minutes, when Westcastle put a ball in the net past goalkeeper Devin Cleghorn. Villa answered back at 25 minutes, with Griffin Leach scoring his first goal of the season.

Westcastle scored again four minutes later, then Richard Murphy scored to tie the game at 44 minutes, just before halftime.

“We created a lot of good scoring opportunities in the first half, but we also made several errors, and some of those cost us goals,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “We ended the first half tied 2-2, and had a great speech during the break to inspire the team, but when your opponent scores right off the kickoff, one minute into the second half, it rattles the team.”

After Westcastle’s goal at 46 minutes, captain Niko Cristante tied the game 3-3 at 61 minutes.

“We were pinned in our end for most of the second half,” said McDonough. “After Niko’s tying goal, we kept struggling a bit, but then Westcastle got their fourth goal, then immediately got their fifth goal, and that was it.”

Westcastle scored five unanswered goals, at 69, 70, 75, 84 and 87 minutes respectively, to finish the game.

“On a normal day, we’d be ecstatic with three goals in a game, because generally that means at least a tie, if not a win, but not in this case,” said Leach. “It was lucky most of the teams around us also lost this weekend, as our position in the rankings hasn’t really changed. But we definitely have a deficit to come back from now.”

Villa returns to Victoria this weekend to face Bays United on Saturday, December 4. Bays United is in sixth place in the Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 1 standings with 12 points, while Villa is in 10th place with eight points.

“We’ve given up a lot of goals the last few games, and we need to stop doing that, so we’ll be working on that in practice,” said McDonough. “We’re also going to focus on being solid defensively. We’re doing well creating scoring chances, but we also need to defend well, too.”

Despite the loss, Leach is happy with the way the young Villa team is developing this season.

“At the beginning of the year, we were doing very well both offensively and defensively, and we’ve just had a setback these last few games,” he said. “This team just keeps working hard, though, and they stay positive.

“No one got mad or took this loss out on anybody; it was just the way it was, and we’ll come back from it.”

Villa’s next home game is Saturday, December 11, against Vic West FC. Game time will be 1:30 pm at Timberlane Park.