Only one team was able to beat the Cowichan Cougars this season.
Unfortunately, that was the team the Cougars faced in the final of the Stephanie Shergold Cup tournament last Sunday.
The Cougars were looking for revenge against Castaways OGM, who handed the Cougars their lone loss in league play back in January. But Castaways prevailed once again in the rematch, beating Cowichan 3-0 at Starlight Stadium in Langford on Sunday afternoon.
“We were definitely hoping for the gold, and knew we had a good chance at it,” Cougars head coach Darian Achurch commented.
Favoured by the crowd, Cowichan came out as the stronger team in the first half and created several scoring chances. Unfortunately, Castaways opened the scoring on a free kick that just eluded the fingers of Cougars goalkeeper Sara Tweten. Cowichan came close to getting that one back just moments later, but the Castaways keeper was able to tip the shot over the crossbar. The Cougars had another sparkling opportunity just before halftime, but the Castaways keeper got her toe on a shot by Ashley Stultz and a defender cleared the rebound off the goal line.
The Cougars came out pressing again in the second half and earned a penalty shot with 30 minutes left in the game, which sailed over the net. Seven minutes later, Castaways doubled their lead with a header off a corner kick, taking some of the wind out of the Cougars’ sails.
“Going down 2-0 when we felt we should be ahead was really tough,” noted Jen Bayley. “We were all playing so well as a team, but that was a turning point.”
Castaways added a penalty shot goal in the last minute to make it 3-0.
“We would like to thank all our fans for their amazing support throughout the season, and especially those who made the trip down to Starlight Stadium on Sunday,” Achurch said.
After the Shergold Cup was presented to Castaways, Bayley received the Sue Beischer Memorial Award, which Achurch explained, “goes to an individual in the league who contributes the most outstanding effort and best exemplifies what the ultimate women’s soccer player is.” Bayley, who just returned to the Cowichan lineup after a battle with cancer, was given a standing ovation from all the players and fans in recognition of her outstanding service, positive attitude and dedication to the sport.
The Cougars will have a few weeks off before they begin the provincial tournament. The draw will be held on April 3, followed by the first games on the weekend of April 22-24.