Luck of the draw played a part in ending the hopes of Powell River Villa SC in Vancouver Island Soccer League’s Jackson Cup tournament, despite a strong defensive effort in Victoria on Saturday, March 9. The club simply ran up against a better team.
Villa, in second place in Division 2, lost 2-0 to Westcastle United, one of the top ranked teams in Division 1. The defeat knocked Villa out of the tournament after two games.
“I'm really proud of the way the guys played; we executed our game plan and just fell a couple of minutes short,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “No shame in losing to a team like that.”
Pinned in its own end, Villa held off a relentless Westcastle attack until the final three minutes of the game when the opponents finally wore the defenders down, scoring the winning goal at the 87-minute mark and a second at 89 minutes.
“We played a really defensive game and our tactics revolved around absorbing the pressure and keeping them to the outside,” said McDonough. “[Goaltender] Matt [Liknes] probably had the best game I’ve seen him play. He made six or seven huge saves to keep us in the game. He was phenomenal.”
With the tournament over, Villa’s focus now is winning the VISL Division 2 championship.
If Villa is promoted to Division 1 next season, the Westcastle game gave them a good test of what to expect. Westcastle is currently in second place in the league’s top division. To be promoted, Villa has to finish as one of the top two teams Division 2.
Powell River held first place in the standings all year but has now dropped to second, four points back of Victoria Highlanders, with two games in hand.
The team’s final two games of the regular season will not be easy.
First up is Villa’s last home game against Gorge United on Saturday, March 16, at Timberlane Park. Game time is 1:30 pm.
McDonough said Villa is trying to permit youth players, including Caleb Vallance, Chris Fisher and Keaton Fougere for the Gorge game.
“We lost to them down in Victoria earlier in the season,” said McDonough. “It's a huge game for us and if we want to keep our chances of being promoted in the division, we have to get three points.”