A win in their final regular season road game has put Comox Valley United on the road to their first-ever Provincial A Cup appearance.
The local men’s soccer side defeated Nanaimo 2-1 on Jan. 30 and will join Cowichan as Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 entries in the provincial playdowns. The draw will be made in early April, with the single knockout competition concluding May 14 in Victoria.
Saturday night under the lights at Merle Logan Turf Field, both teams played well in the first half. “There were chances from both teams,” said United team rep Rob Caya.
“I think both teams were frustrated with too many calls taking away from the flow of the game. We both play similar physical styles. We went into halftime locked at 0-0. “Grayson (Chalifoux) got the start in the second half, which paid off five minutes in. He made a great individual effort chasing a ball down the wing, then scaling the end line through the box with a tight angle finish,” Caya said.
Nanaimo tied the game with a shot on net that was originally stopped before Billy Bagiopoulos banged in the rebound.
Comox’s go-ahead goal came from a shot on net that was followed up by Phil Ludwig taking the ball away from a slightly mishandled ball by the Nanaimo keeper. “Phil then had a defender to beat and a tight angle shot to get the goal,” said Caya.
“With about a minute left in the game, the ref awarded Nanaimo a PK which seemed to be a make-up call. The shooter elected to try a chip down the middle and watched the ball sail over the crossbar.”
United completes regular season play Saturday, Feb. 6 at Comox Valley Turf Field with a 6 p.m. start against Lakehill. “(They) will need a win just to have a chance to not get relegated,” said Caya, noting that only two points separate the bottom four teams in Div. 1. “It should make for an exciting game.”
Lakehill is currently in last place with an 3-11-3 record and winless in their last four (including an 8-0 spanking at the hands of first-place Cowichan this past weekend). The bottom two teams drop down to Div. 2 next season.
Comox Valley is in second place with an 11-3-3 record and are 5-0-1 in their last six games, five of which were played on the road. They defeated Lakehill 2-1 earlier this season.
A win Saturday night would lock up second place for United, who lead third-place Saanich Fusion by one point. Saanich hosts Cowichan in their last league game on Feb. 5, so United will know prior to Saturday’s kick-off whether they need a win to clinch second place.
THROW INS United drew 0-0 with Gorge on Jan. 23, with Stuart Ayres posting his third shutout of the season … Cowichan won the Garrison Cup as Div. 1 champs for the second straight year and in doing so earned a seeded berth and guaranteed home game in the BC Provincial Cup … their coach Glen Martin told the Cowichan Valley Citizen he intends to sit some of his players in their final two league games in order have them rested for cup competitions …