Powell River Villa ended the preseason with a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team at Timberlane Field on Saturday, August 28.
“Saturday’s win was a good confidence builder for the team,” said Chris McDonough, Villa’s manager. “We’re a pretty new team, with a lot of new and young players, and they really started gelling and getting familiar with each other over these games.”
Marcus Cramb, one of those new players, scored the goal for Villa on a penalty kick in the second half. The team went on to defend the lead, despite increasing pressure from the Mariners.
“We expected a tight game, and the Mariners didn’t disappoint,” said Tony Leach, Villa’s coach. “They were the silver medalists at the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals, and some of those players are still with the team, so to win against them with such a young team is a great confidence builder.”
There was a good crowd of supporters at Timberlane Field for the game, and they were treated to an exciting match with good flow and excellent skilled play. “We really want to thank Powell River for all their support over the last few years, and special thanks to everyone who came out to the game today,” said Niko Cristante, Villa’s captain. “We’re looking forward to putting on some good games for our fans this season.”
This is Cristante’s first year as a full-time Villa player, and McDonough is already very pleased with his performance. “Niko had a great game in the midfield, and I think he’s going to be one of our top players this season,” he said. “Carl Hanson was also solid on defense, taking away a lot of their chances and giving Villa good structure in our own end. He was the man of the match in my mind.”
Villa also travelled to Vancouver Island for the Comox Cup on August 21, where they played two games in one day. Their first match against Comox Valley United ended in a 5-1 loss, and then Campbell River Golden Wings defeated them 3-0.
“We didn’t have our full roster in Comox, and for many of the players it was the first time they had played together,” said Leach. “There was also only an hour between matches, and we didn’t have the stamina to really play our best in back-to-back games, so that’s something we’re going to work on in practice. Overall, though, I wasn’t unsatisfied with the result. We played to our plan, and our work rate was great.”
Villa has two weeks off before their season opener at home on Saturday, September 11. Westcastle United will travel to Powell River for the first match of the season at Timberlane Field. The game begins at 1:30 pm, with $5 game tickets and $34 season passes available at the gate. Villa will then play Bays United Liquor Plus at home on Saturday, September 18.
“It’s nice for both the team and our fans to start off at home a couple games,” said McDonough. “They’ll be tough tests for Villa, as all the teams are really good at this level, but we’ll focus on Westcastle and try to get three points.”