Harris is Man of the Match again as Cowichan LMG beats struggling Gorge FC

Raymond Sam scored one of Cowichan Oak FC’s three goals in a 5-3 loss to the Saanich Fusion Matadors at the Sherman Road turf last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Raymond Sam scored one of Cowichan Oak FC’s three goals in a 5-3 loss to the Saanich Fusion Matadors at the Sherman Road turf last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Oak FC’s Sam Smith dribbles past an opponent during his team’s 5-3 loss to the Saanich Fusion Matadors last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Cowichan Oak FC’s Sam Smith dribbles past an opponent during his team’s 5-3 loss to the Saanich Fusion Matadors last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Rafael Galvez-Caceres races against a Saanich Matadors player during Cowichan Oak FC’s 5-3 loss at the Sherman Road turf last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Rafael Galvez-Caceres races against a Saanich Matadors player during Cowichan Oak FC’s 5-3 loss at the Sherman Road turf last Friday night. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Although Cowichan LMG head coach Ryan Flynn was glad his team wasn’t the first to lose to Gorge FC this season, he’s still surprised Gorge hasn’t won a game thus far in the Vancouver Island Soccer League season.

“We thought Gorge would be tough, and they came out hard,” Flynn said. “They were fast and energetic right away. It was a spirited affair, which they always are against Gorge.

“They shouldn’t be where they are. They’ve played every team at the top of the table, so that’s probably why they’re where they are.”

For his part, Flynn organized his troops in a different formation because of the shorter field, and it paid off as they got several balls behind the Gorge defence. Darian Harris and Jordan De Graaf were taking the corners for Cowichan, and they sent in a few well-placed balls before Harris finally delivered one directly into the net to open the scoring in the 23rd minute. The converted hockey player ended up being named Cowichan’s Man of the Match for the second time in five games this season.

“It shows how valuable he is to the team,” Flynn said. “His tenacity, you can’t teach that. It’s huge for us having a quality left back, not having to worry about that position.”

Cowichan was also set at right back as veteran Jose Muro returned to his natural position for the first time in a couple of years.

“The whole defence played really well,” Flynn said.

LMG’s second goal came from De Graaf in the second minute of the second half after he worked a give-and-go with Henry James and finished it with a nutmeg on the Gorge keeper. The goal was De Graaf’s seventh of the season and fourth in two games with Cowichan.

Gorge scored made good use of their height advantage to score their lone goal off a corner kick.

“They have some tall guys, so we knew that was their game plan,” Flynn related. “We pretty much stayed away from corners and free kicks the best we could.”

The last goal of the night came from Mike Daniels, an 18-year-old who entered the game at halftime. Daniels took the ball down the wing before cutting back to his left foot and burying it in the 87th minute.

“I thought he played a very good game for his second game in Div. 1,” Flynn said. “I asked him to show me what he could do to keep his position and make it hard for me to take him out.”

Team captain Colin Knight put in his usual solid effort in the midfield.

“He doesn’t get a lot of recognition, but he does his job day in and day out,” Flynn said. “This is my eighth year coaching him, so I know what I’m getting from him, so maybe I don’t recognize him enough. Same with guys like Jordan Korven and Russell Lederer. Colin asked me, ‘What am I gonna have to do to win the hard hat?’ I told him, ‘Probably score a goal.’”

Cowichan and their next opponent, Nanaimo, are tied for third in Div. 1 with matching 3-1-1 records. The teams will meet at the Sherman Road turf this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“They’re generally a tough team for us,” Flynn noted. “This will show where both teams are at. Being a home game, it will be an opportunity to get a jump on them and worry about how we’re playing instead of travelling and things like that.”

In Div. 3, Cowichan Oak FC lost 5-3 to the Saanich Fusion Matadors at Sherman Road last Friday night. Connor Crichton, Brandon Tolfo and Raymond Sam scored for Cowichan, which dropped to eighth place in Div. 3 with one win, two draws and three losses so far this seaon. Oak FC will visit Juan de Fuca this Sunday afternoon.

In Div. 4, the Cowichan Fury lost 2-1 to Cook Street United in Victoria last Saturday, getting their lone goal from Quinton Thorne. The Fury visit Fernwood United this Saturday.

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