Seen here in a game earlier this season, Nicola Mawson earned the Fresh Kenny’s Hard Hat for her play in a 1-0 loss to Gorge last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Seen here in a game earlier this season, Nicola Mawson earned the Fresh Kenny’s Hard Hat for her play in a 1-0 loss to Gorge last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Elements not on Cowichan United’s side in loss

First-half wind helps Gorge, but dies before second half

Cowichan United continues to play strong soccer in a cohort that includes some of Vancouver Island’s top women’s teams, including a close 1-0 loss to undefeated Gorge FC at Victoria’s Hampton Park last Friday.

Cowichan might have had a better fate against Gorge had they not started off on the wrong side of a howling wind that pinned them in their own end of the soggy grass pitch. As Cowichan struggled to clear the ball, Gorge used the elements to their advantage and pushed forward. The hosts missed a few chances, but finally converted one in the 14th minute.

“We were certainly unlucky to have to play into a wind that was blowing that hard,” Cowichan head coach Adam Lawson noted. “On a better pitch, we would have been able to work the ball out on the ground, but the chewed-up, water-logged pitch created significant challenges with that approach too.”

Gorge dominated the rest of the first half and kept creating chances, but Cowichan goalkeeper Tiara Enger was up to the challenge every time.

Much to Cowichan’s chagrin, the wind died down at the half, and the game became more balanced.

Cowichan still came out firing after the break, and in the 48th minute, Nicola Mawson beat two Gorge defenders in the corner and whipped a cross into the box. Khasi Dietrich collected the ball, but her shot went just wide. Keisha Sampson had the next chance when she took a 25-yard free kick; her attempt beat the goalie but went just over the crossbar.

Gorge had a golden opportunity to add to their lead in the 68th minute when Enger parried away a shot, which fell in front of a Gorge player, with a wide-open net. Cowichan defender Sam Walker got back and made the block to keep her team in the game.

It wasn’t quite over for Cowichan, though, as Jada Hill nearly came up with the tying goal, sidestepping two Gorge defenders before she was tackled by a third as she reached the penalty spot.

“I was looking forward to having the wind in our favor in the second half, but with the wind dying down at half time, we weren’t able to enjoy the same advantage that Gorge did,” Paulson lamented. “Our players did the best they could under the conditions, and the second half showed we can play with them. Coming away from that field without any significant injuries on either team almost feels like a win.”

Mawson was awarded the Fresh Kenny’s Hart Hat, which is awarded to the player who works the hardest on the pitch, selected by the previous week’s recipient, Jenna Ryan.

“Nicola is an integral part of our midfield engine,” Paulson commented. “And she was a prototypical box-to-box midfielder tonight, both creating chances in the Gorge end, and protecting the 18-yard box in our end.”

Cowichan will be back in action this Friday against Prospect Lake at Layritz Turf in Saanich.