Goalkeeper Darian Achurch has dominated the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s masters division since joining the Cowichan 49ers for the start of the 2020-21 season, so it wasn’t unusual when he earned another shutout — his league-leading sixth of the year — last Saturday night.
What was out of the ordinary, however, was the clean sheet on the other side of the score as the 49ers and Vic West played to a scoreless draw at the Sherman Road turf.
“The game was pretty uneventful,” Cowichan player/manager Neall Rowlings commented. “Vic West wanted it a little more than we did.”
Former Cowichan player George Horne showed up injured for Vic West, so they put him in goal, and he earned the shutout. It marked the first time the 49ers had been blanked since Oct. 3, 2020.
It didn’t help Cowichan’s cause that Brad Thorne was issued a red card in the 68th minute and Stu Barker, who went into the weekend as the league’s top scorer — was ejected for a double yellow in the 82nd minute.
“If this game taught us anything it’s that grit and hard work is what we need to work on,” Rowlings said. “Our skill got us through, but since we want our titles and more back, we will have to work on it.”
Even with the tie, the 49ers have wrapped up the 2021 portion of the season in first place, with a four-point lead over Vic West and UVic Alumni. Cowichan’s next game is set for Jan. 14, when they will visit UVic.
The Cowichan Steelheads finished 2021 on a strong note, beating Gorge FC 3-1 at home on Saturday for their second win of the season and their first since a 3-0 win over JDF Pacific on Oct. 9.
Travis Brown scored twice and Chiran Poudyal had the other goal as the Steelheads moved into a tie with JDF Pacific for sixth in the Masters A pool.
The Steelheads will play host to Vic West on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m.