Sports

Div. 2 United now carries Cowichan's Jackson Cup hopes

Jose Muro got mobbed in the final league game for Div. 2 Cowichan United. The team now carries the local hopes in the Jackson Cup. - Don Bodger/file
Jose Muro got mobbed in the final league game for Div. 2 Cowichan United. The team now carries the local hopes in the Jackson Cup.
— image credit: Don Bodger/file

Two-time defending champion Div. 1 Cowichan LMG Pringle is out of the running but Div. 2 Cowichan United has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the prestigious Jackson Cup soccer competition.

Cowichan LMG was ousted 1-0 by Bays United Liquor Plus in a heavyweight battle between the top two seeded teams in the competition Saturday at Victoria's Finlayson Park.

Cowichan held Bays United's top guns Kellen Holden and Jordie Hughes in check, but another Jordie — Oberg — slipped through in the late stages of the game to head the ball over goalie Joel Wilson off a free kick for the lone goal.

Cowichan came right back and thought it had tied the game, but Chris Merriman's goal was ruled offside. Tyler Hughes also hit the crossbar as Cowichan's hopes at forcing overtime didn't quite materialize.

Oberg's goal suddenly broke what seemed certain of being a scoreless outing in regulation time.

"I was kind of getting ready for the overtime, for sure,'' said Cowichan coach Glen Martin.

Goals have been in short supply of late for Cowichan, but the team appeared headed toward breaking the drought in the early stages.

"We had an absolutely tremendous start to the game,'' said Martin. "We had them under siege, under pressure.''

Connor Crichton's header required a brilliant save by the goalkeeper, with Cowichan thinking it had a sure goal.

"We had them, we just didn't punish them, finish them off,'' said Martin.

The tide started to turn in the last five minutes of the half. "They were coming at us pretty good,'' said Martin.

Cowichan still felt good about the scoreless situation at the half and made only one substitution, bringing in Sam Beswick for Crichton.

Martin said Cowichan took way too many fouls in the late stages of the game and it eventually proved costly on the free kick leading to the lone goal.

"We gave it the big push at the end,'' he said.

"We had the team there to beat them. They were missing some players. They were ripe to be beat.''

It didn't happen but Div. 2 Cowichan United kept valley interest in the tournament alive by beating Nanaimo United Div. 2 3-1 in Nanaimo.

Cowichan will now play Nanaimo Div. 1 in the round of 16 after it beat Powell River Div. 2.

United had something to prove against its Div. 2 rivals.

"We played the only team that can take first place from us and we set out to prove why we should finish first in the league,'' noted Cowichan's Neall Rowlings.

Jordan Korven was hauled down at the six-minute mark, setting up a free kick from 20 yards out. Jason Ovans found the bottom corner after the Nanaimo wall jumped out at his attempt.

Cowichan had other great chances when George Thomas hit the post from 28 yards away and Steven Zorich nearly converted the rebound.

A great individual effort by Nanaimo tied the score. Kevin Smith was then hauled down at the 35-minute mark and Ovans converted the team's first penalty of the year.

Kodi Archbold banged in a huge insurance marker on a ball from Rowlings in the second half.

"We need to fight to keep the Jackson Cup in Cowichan,'' Rowlings indicated. "It's an outside chance and a longshot but we've got a deep bench and a good attitude, with nothing to lose.''

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