If a soccer game lasted 50 minutes, Powell River Villa would have claimed victory at home on October 10.
After taking a 2-1 lead prior to halftime, and continuing its strong play to start the second half, Villa surrendered six goals to Victoria Highlanders in the final 35 minutes. The visitors improved to 2-0 in the young Vancouver Island Soccer League season with a 7-2 victory. The loss came in Villa’s first game of the Division 1 campaign.
“In the second half we weren’t quite up to match fitness compared to Highlanders, who played the week before and train on a daily basis in Victoria as part of an academy team,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “We have some things to work on to get up to speed with fitness but overall I thought we played quite well.”
Villa had not played a match since March, and with no exhibition games leading up to the start of the season, a roster featuring many new players had to come together quickly.
“I was pretty pleased with how we did in the first half; the effort was great and we exceeded expectations going into half winning 2-1 against what will likely be one of the top teams in the league,” said McDonough. “It was our first real game together with so many new faces, so I’m really happy with a lot of what happened.”
After falling behind 1-0, James Timothy equalized for Villa at the 14-minute mark. Eight minutes later, Cullen Buholzer broke away from defenders and beat the Highlanders’ goaltender with a low shot to put the home team up by one after 45 minutes.
Victoria tied the game at two 10 minutes into the second half, then added the eventual winner at the 62-minute mark, followed by insurance markers in minute 64, 73, 75, 77 and 82.
“We were winning for most of the game and then the wheels came off at the 60-minute mark,” explained the coach. “They had a pretty deep lineup and bringing on some of their players really changed the game a bit. We just didn’t have the numbers to handle it, but that is something we can work on for the future.”
McDonough said defensive struggles were due to fatigue, which affected positioning and decision-making.
“When you’re tired you make mistakes,” he added. “Fitness is something we can work on and get guys in game shape for this level of soccer."
McDonough said his team is excited to be playing and not dwelling on the defeat. Many of the young players had their first taste of Division 1 action, gaining real minutes at a high level, which is good for the long-term health of the club, he added.
“There was a good vibe after the game; they’re just moving onto the next game and moving forward,” he added. “We proved we can compete with some of these teams and these are young guys who are excited to play. There is definitely something to build on from that.”
“We scored goals. We just have to work on our defensive shape. We’re committed to developing all these kids and building a solid team.”
McDonough said the team will learn from how it played the first 60 minutes and work to apply that effort over 90 minutes in its next contest against defending league champion Lakehill on Saturday, October 17, also at Timberlane Park.
“We had some tough games against them last year so we know what to expect,” said McDonough. “It is going to be some good competition for these young guys.”
As was the case last week, Villa will not be operating an admission gate or encouraging fans to attend, which will continue until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.