Cowichan LMG’s Mateo Kostering gives himself a boost as he beats an opposing player to the ball during a match at the Sherman Road turf earlier this season. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan LMG’s Mateo Kostering gives himself a boost as he beats an opposing player to the ball during a match at the Sherman Road turf earlier this season. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan LMG prepares to honour Truth and Reconciliation this Friday

Div. 1 club returns home after dramatic road win over JDF

Following up on their first win of the 2021-22 Div. 1 men’s soccer season, Cowichan LMG will return home this Friday with a special game to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

A shorthanded Cowichan side earned a surprise 3-2 comeback win over JDF All Flows in Colwood last Saturday. The team went into the match missing seven players who had started the previous game two weeks earlier, with four at a wedding, two injured and one dealing with a death in the family.

“It was crazy,” Cowichan coach Ryan Flynn said. “It’s unheard-of to win a game in Div. 1 when you’re missing seven starters. We would have been really happy with a tie, but we ended up scoring in the 89th minute to win it. It was nice.”

Dan Citra opened the scoring on a penalty kick in the 14th minute. After Citra worked a give-and-go with Stevan Zorich, who was called up from Div. 3 Cowichan Oak FC only to play a 90 minutes for the Div. 1 team, Zorich was fouled in the box, giving Citra the PK opportunity.

JDF tied the score 14 minutes later, then went ahead in the 67th minute. Ole MacKay tied the game at 2-2 in the 76th minute.

“He was calling for a sub two minutes prior,” Flynn reported. “I said no, not until he takes a knee. I can’t afford to. We needed his legs to keep going.”

MacKay was one of six players who made their Div. 1 debuts last Saturday, four of whom, like MacKay, went the full 90 minutes. He earned a couple of good scoring opportunities earlier in the game before he scored the tying goal, and his work ethic earned him Man of the Match honours. Cowichan also got a stellar showing from Jose Muro at centre back.

Citra scored the winner in the 89th minute, again off a play with Zorich, and the Cowichan players held their ground until the final whistle.

“The guys battled to the very end,” Flynn said. “They were throwing everything at us in the 90th minute.”

With one win and one loss so far, Flynn likes what he has seen from his team.

“Seeing some of the [other teams’] game lines, and how everyone is falling into place for us, if we can stay healthy and committed, I’m hoping we can be a top-four, top-five team,” he said. “We have the team to do it.”

Cowichan will play host to Westcastle United on the Sherman Road turf this Friday at 7:30 p.m., with plans to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which takes place on Thursday. The day is especially meaningful for the Cowichan team, which includes 10 First Nations players.

The Cowichan players will wear orange shirts before the game instead of warmup jerseys, and the Tzinquaw Dancers will perform before the game and at halftime.

During the match, the players will sport armbands on which they can write their own messages, or leave them blank.

“I know there’s a couple of guys who are really excited about writing something,” Flynn said.

The coach hopes Cowichan supporters will join the players in wearing orange.

“We’ll try to get as many people out there as possible wearing orange shirts,” he said.

In Div. 3, Cowichan Oak FC played to a dramatic 3-3 draw with Vic West Wanderers at Finlayson turf. Vic West took a 2-0 lead before Luca Klotz scored for Cowichan. The Wanderers found the net again to go up by two, but Connor Crichton and Alex Smith scored in the 88th and 89th minutes to earn the tie.

Now with one win, one draw and one loss on the season, Oak FC will play host to Salt Spring FC at the Sherman Road turf this Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Cowichan Fury played to a 3-0 loss to Castaways Invicta at PISE on Saturday. With a draw and two losses so far, the Fury will look for their first win when they face Vantreights Mates FC at Heywood Park in Victoria on Saturday.