Cowichan 49ers players put up a wall to turn back a UVic free kick. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan 49ers players put up a wall to turn back a UVic free kick. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

49ers will aim at Grover Cup when season resumes

Virtually out of running for league title, Cowichan in unfamiliar territory

The Cowichan 49ers are resolving to refocus in 2020.

With two losses in the Vancouver Island Soccer League masters A season so far, the team is in unfamiliar territory and may be out of the running for a third straight league title, but there are still ways to salvage the season.

“The league title is a little out of our hands now,” Cowichan player/manager Neall Rowlings acknowledged. “But our second-half goals are to deal UVic their first loss and win the Tony Grover Cup for our fourth time in a row. In our existence as the 49ers we have never lost this cup. We may be underdogs now, but we are not going to let anyone have it who doesn’t earn it.”

The Niners suffered their second loss of the 2019-20 campaign on Saturday night when they lost 2-0 to first-place UVic Alumni.

“UVic came to town ready to play,” Rowlings reported. “The game was somewhat even, but Nando Dunic capitalized on a corner kick with a nice header. From that point we pushed hard and they got another one on a scramble at about 80 minutes.”

Former Cowichan Div. 1 star Matt Arnett joined the 49ers from Div. 1 Mid Isle prior to Saturday’s game, and added tenacity and grit to the lineup.

“He will be a welcome addition to our provincial and Tony Grover Cup run,” Rowlings said of Arnett.

The 49ers play next on Jan. 18 when they host Juan de Fuca, followed the next weekend by the second part of the local derby against the Cowichan Steelheads.

The Steelheads won their last game of 2019, beating JDF 1-0 at Westhills on Saturday night. Kevin Smith scored yet another early goal for the Steelheads, potting the eventual game winner in the 18th minute. The Steelheads will also return to action on Jan. 18 when they host Gorge FC.