Powell River Villa SC is on a roll, riding atop Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 2 standings in first place with an undefeated record.
Villa won its fourth straight game at home on Saturday, October 6, beating Nanaimo United FC 1-0. Scott Sawchuk scored the winning goal at the 68-minute mark on an assist by Kurtis Dennison.
Sawchuk broke down the right side of the field and behind a Nanaimo defender, putting the ball off the left post; it trickled in as a defender was coming in to clear the ball.
The game was notable not only for Villa’s hold on first place, but also for a full-on fight that broke out at about the 25-minute mark.
Before throwing punches with Villa striker Brandon Knox, the Nanaimo player, Nathan Ruban, who is well known around the league for being a troublemaker, made a dirty tackle on Villa veteran Kye Taylor and tried to pick a fight with him. Then Ruban tried to engage midfielder Jake Kenmuir before the real fisticuffs flew with Knox.
“The guy attacked me and punched me in the face,” said Knox. “He elbowed me in the face behind the play just randomly as I was running by him, then I said something to him and he put his face up in my face and then punched me, then I kind of lost my cool.”
Knox hit Ruban back a few times and about six or seven punches were thrown before the players hit the ground. The fight ended with Knox dragging Ruban by his jersey.
Both players received red cards, were ejected from the game and slapped with four-game suspensions and $40 fines from the league.
“It's not my first red card but definitely my first fist fight on the soccer field,” said Knox.
All fighting aside, Villa’s unblemished record of four wins, no losses and no ties for 16 points is not surprising to head coach Chris McDonough.
“I didn't really know how the teams would be that we're playing, but I knew just based on our lineup and the players we signed that we have a good team and knew we could compete with anyone,” said McDonough.
On Saturday, October 13, Villa is on the road to play Victoria Highlanders in the biggest game and biggest early season test for his team so far, according to the coach.
“Victoria Highlanders is kind of a semi-pro setup as far as their coaching goes and what kind of team they have,” said McDonough. “In the summer they're in BC Soccer Premier League, which is quite a good level. We expect a young, fit, well coached team.”