Jesse Grass of the Cowichan Steelheads stops the ball before a Vic West player can get to it during Cowichan’s 1-0 win on Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Steelheads pull out a win, 49ers blow it in the wind

The Cowichan Steelheads salvaged three points out of a lacking effort on Saturday night as they edged Vic West 1-0 at the Sherman Road turf on Saturday night.

The game was a scoreless tie at halftime, and coach Billy Keserich let his players know at the break that they had just played their worst half of football so far this season and were lucky not to be down 2-0 as goalkeeper Preston Johnny had bailed his team out with a pair of massive saves.

“Coach has a way to remind us we need to work harder than everyone else to succeed,” Steelheads player Curtis Flynn said. “Our focus was definitely lacking at a time when we should be coming together as a group.”

Despite Keserich’s pleas, the Steelheads came out flat in the second half as well.

“We were missing easy passes and losing focus on the simple things,” Flynn noted. “We weren’t getting many scoring chances and we were giving up too many opportunities.”

After a questionable yellow card in the 60th minute, things were looking grim for the Steelheads, but the team rallied despite being down a player. Dan Hudson and Luke Massey connected a few times with superb passing plays, one of which ended up on the foot of George White. White got the ball to Jim Noon, who let go with a screamer that beat Vic West’s keeper in the top corner. Noon celebrated by doing “the floss” on the field.

With 11 wins and six losses, the Steelheads move into third place in the Vancouver Island Soccer League masters A division, two points ahead of Castaways Juniors with one league game left. That league game will have to wait as the Steelheads face the Cowichan 49ers this Saturday in a Tony Grover Cup play-in match this coming Saturday.

The second-place 49ers struggled last weekend as they were defeated 4-1 by first-place UVic Alumni. UVic’s first two goals could be blamed on the windy conditions, but after Neall [Rocket] Rowlings got the 49ers on the board late in the first half, UVic came up with two more in the second half.

“It was more like a 2-1 game and we were in it,” Rowlings said. “But hats off to UVic, they finished with a perfect record and they deserved it. We now plan to meet them in the Tony Grover final, once we dispense with the stalwart Steelheads.”

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