Cowichan United headed into the Lower Island Women’s Soccer League’s winter break on a five-game winning streak and at the top of the Div. 2 table following a 2-0 victory over Vic West last Sunday.
“I told the team at the start that this was a game that they could find reasons to lose,” Cowichan coach Adam Paulson said. “It was wet and cold. The field resembled a swamp. We were missing some key players. I told them that these were the games that championship calibre teams find a way to win, and others don’t. The ladies fought hard, and were able to do enough to secure the points, I was definitely proud of the spirit they showed.
The Cowichan players were a little skeptical about their chances after travelling over the snowy Malahat to find a waterlogged pitch at Victor Brodeur School. They got off to a good start, but passes that stopped dead in puddles of water and tactical fouls by Vic West put a halt to some promising attacks.
The first real chance came in the 20th minute when Alyssa Klotz shrugged off a challenge and hit a low, hard shot toward the Vic West goal. The ball pinged off the post and just past an on-rushing Madison Szafranski, giving Vic West a chance to clear the ball. Two minutes later, Cowichan was awarded a direct free kick from 35 yards out. Keisha Sampson lined up the ball and blasted it over the wall, but the Vic West keeper managed to snag it as it dipped under the crossbar.
Cowichan finally broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when Klotz was taken down in the Vic West half. Taking the free kick herself, Klotz fired it into the top corner, over the keeper’s head. Not content with that, nine minutes later Klotz took a pass from Keira Martin, stepped around a defender and beat the goalie from the top of the 18-yard box.
As the second half wore on, Cowichan had a number of chances to put the game away, but opportunities for Jada Hill, Szafranski and Sam Walker all narrowly missed their mark, and the team had to be satisfied with a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The rain picked up in the second half, leading to even worse field conditions, and both teams struggled to create momentum. Cowichan kept looking for the elusive third goal, but chances by Katerina Cook and Dennene Wallace were stopped by the Vic West defence.
Vic West’s best scoring chance came in the 75th minute when the ball landed at the feet of a Vic West striker about 20 yards out. Her shot found its way to the goal, but Cowichan keeper Kate Collins handled it easily.
With that win, the 2021 portion of the season came to a close. Cowichan United will return to the pitch in first place in Div. 2, playing host to second-place Juan de Fuca United on Jan. 9.