Ryan Fusick delivers a pass under pressure during the Cowichan 49ers’ 8-0 win over Lakehill Monkey Tree at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Niners remain unbeaten, Steelheads suffer loss

Another solid start propelled the Cowichan 49ers to an 8-0 win over Lakehill Monkey Tree at the Sherman Road turf last Saturday night.

“We’re getting a bit better of a warmup,” head coach Kevin James said. “I think the guys are sick and tired of me harping on them.”

In an effort to remedy the slow starts that have plagued them for years, the team has been scrimmaging before the game, running a bit harder in warmup, and trying to be better prepared mentally.

“It seems to me that it’s working,” James said. “Hopefully we will continue to do that.”

The 49ers got their first goal from Brody Phillips three minutes into the game, and Neall Rowlings added another at 14 minutes. Darcy Penner and Darren Meiner also scored before halftime to give Cowichan a 4-0 edge. In the second half, Stu Barker, Darcy Kulai and Todd Vass all scored before Penner rounded out the scoring with his second of the game in the 90th minute.

“It got a little chippy toward the end,” James admitted. “I think they were frustrated. It’s always tough to get eight goals scored on you, and it’s tough when you come up with 11 or 12 players.”

From a coaching perspective, James had few complaints about his team’s performance.

“Everybody played; everybody got decent minutes,” he said. “The important thing is that everybody contributed in some way.”

Dave Tuckey ran hard at centre midfield for most of the game despite a nagging injury, and knew exactly when his night was over.

“He was done at the 65-minute mark, and he knew we had a strong bench, so he asked to come off so someone else could come on who’s 100 per cent,” James said, praising his team-first attitude. “That’s a fine example of what we’re trying to do.”

Undefeated through five games in the red pool, the 49ers have clinched a top-three spot and a place in the A division when the teams move to division play, but James insists their mindset won’t change for the remaining pool matches.

“We are going to play as if every point counts,” the coach said.

In fact, every point does count, because when the teams go to the A and B divisions, their points from tiering will carry through, and three teams in the blue pool have four wins so far.

The 49ers will visit CB Red Barn Bobcats at Lochside Turf on Friday. The Bobcats sit second in the red pool.

“Every single time we’ve played them [the last two years], it’s been a tough game, a one-, two-, three-goal game,” James said. “It’s a matter of us having to play a physical, smart style and match their grit.”

In the blue pool, the Cowichan Steelheads lost 1-0 to Gorge FC in Victoria last Saturday afternoon. With two wins and three losses, the Steelheads still could get into the A division, but they need wins in their last two games and help from other teams for that to happen. The Steelheads will visit Castaways Juniors in Victoria on Sunday afternoon.

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