Jesse Winter (centre) celebrates the only goal of the Cowichan 49er’s game against Fernwood last Saturday with Matt Arnett (3), whose corner kick set up the goal. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Jesse Winter (centre) celebrates the only goal of the Cowichan 49er’s game against Fernwood last Saturday with Matt Arnett (3), whose corner kick set up the goal. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan 49ers edge Fernwood, Steelheads fall to UVic

Keeper Achurch is perfect as Niners stay atop table

Darian Achurch stole the show from teammate Jesse Winter last Saturday as the Cowichan 49ers edged the Fernwood Dragons 1-0 in a thrilling O35 men’s soccer clash at the Sherman Road turf.

Winter scored the only goal of the night on a header off a Matt Arnett corner kick just before halftime, and looked like a shoo-in for “the chain,” which the 49ers present to the player who had the biggest impact on the game. Some late-game heroics by Cowichan keeper Achurch, however, preserved the shutout and the win and earned him the award.

“He’s a game changer,” Cowichan player-coach Neall Rowlings stated.

The 49ers sit atop the O35 pool A standings, but Fernwood isn’t far back in third place, and the Cowichan team was expecting a good battle.

“We knew Fernwood would be a good team, and we had to line up a little different,” Rowlings said. “We brought 21 guys to the field and they all played. At the start I was concerned we wouldn’t get them all in, but we needed them.”

Owen Smith made his first appearance with the team and had a strong outing, as did Arnett and Mike Minckler.

“We have been calling on a lot of players to play position they aren’t used to,” Rowlings noted. “No one complains; they just get the job done.”

The 49ers will visit fourth-place Vic West at Finlayson Park this Saturday as the first round of games wraps up.

“They have a lot of stars on their team, and their results show each week it varies who shows up,” Rowlings said. “I guarantee they will show up with a big roster against us. It’s exciting to have a tight division and we won’t take them lightly.”

Also in O35 action at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday, the Cowichan Steelheads suffered their worst loss of the year, falling 6-1 to UVic Alumni.

Kevin Smith opened the scoring for Cowichan at 11 minutes, but UVic answered back with two goals in the first half and four in the second. With one win, two draws and two losses, the Steelheads sit fifth in the O35 division, one point back of Vic West and two back of third-place Fernwood. They are one point ahead of sixth-place Gorge FC, who they play at Hampton Park this coming Saturday.

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Kevin Smith scored the Cowichan Steelheads’ lone goal in a 6-1 loss to UVic Alumni at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Kevin Smith scored the Cowichan Steelheads’ lone goal in a 6-1 loss to UVic Alumni at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)