The Cowichan 49ers’ Todd Vass takes the ball up the wing during last a recent home game at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

The Cowichan 49ers’ Todd Vass takes the ball up the wing during last a recent home game at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

First loss of the season for Cowichan 49ers

Steelheads drop third in a row on rough weekend for O35 teams

A late goal sent the Cowichan 49ers to their first loss of the O35 men’s soccer season last Saturday night.

Just two minutes after the Niners clawed their way back to tie the score at two goals apiece, Vic West’s Steve Gately manoeuvered around the entire Cowichan team to set up the game-winner by Joseph Mallett.

It was another example of how, even though the perennial favourites Cowichan and UVic Alumni remain atop the O30 table, other teams are gaining ground.

“Lots of parity in the league now, since UVic tied Juan de Fuca as well,” 49ers player-coach Neall Rowlings pointed out. “It’s very fun to have a competitive game each week, and injuries for all teams are making it a challenge.”

The 49ers headed to Finlayson turf knowing Vic West was hungry. Although Cowichan controlled the play early, Vic West opened the scoring in the 16th minute, and the 49ers were chasing them from then on. Stu Barker evened the score with a volley in the 37th minute, but Vic West went ahead again on a free kick in the 50th. Cowichan tied things up again in the 85th minute when Owen Smith’s shot deflected in, but Vic West mustered one more two minutes after that.

Defender Adrian Achurch won the 49ers’ chain for the game, in recognition of the physical sacrifices he made.

“His entire body was bleeding and taped up by the end of it,” Rowlings commented.

With UVic playing to a scoreless draw with JDF Pacific last Friday, the 49ers and UVic are once again tied for first place.

The 49ers next game will be the second chapter of this season’s Cowichan Derby against the Steelheads on Nov. 6.

The Steelheads have been on a largely downward trajectory since the local rivals played to a 3-3 tie in mid September, including a 2-1 loss to Gorge FC at Hampton Park last Saturday, the team’s third straight defeat. Travis Brown scored the Steelheads’ lone goal in the 63rd minute.

The Steelheads have one more game before they face the 49ers, against the Fernwood Dragons at Finlayson this Sunday afternoon.

soccer