Division one soccer will be staying in the Comox Valley next season.
Despite finishing in the relegation zone of the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s first division this year, the Comox Valley United men’s team (CVU) will remain in the Island’s top league for 2018/19.
Typically, the bottom two teams in the first division are relegated (demoted) to the second division for the following year, while the top two teams in that league are promoted to the top flight.
CVU finished in ninth place in the 10-team VISL first division this season, for the second consecutive year.
|VISL Div. 1 league table.|
But because the winner of division two — Lakehill FC — is part of a club that already has a team in the first division, the usual rules for relegation/promotion do not apply.
Clubs often choose to only have one team playing in each division, and Lakehill FC already has a team in the top flight. Therefore, Lakehill’s second division team declined the opportunity to be promoted to the first division.
Following that decision, the third and fourth placed teams in division two declined to play in a challenge match against Comox Valley, with the winner proceeding to the first division. That means CVU will stay in the top division next year.
As convoluted as all that sounds, it’s almost the same situation that Comox Valley United found itself in last year. After finishing in ninth place last season, the team ultimately saved itself from relegation by beating Westcastle FC 3-2 in a challenge match.
Tony Dickson, the assistant coach of CVU, said the players are happy to remain in division one.
“It certainly doesn’t discount the desire to play at the highest level,” he said of his team’s two consecutive ninth-place finishes. “Most of the teams we play against tend to say they get off lucky when we’re in those [closely fought] games.
“They’re certainly competitive and we had some awful luck in a few of our games that put us behind. If you win a few of those games every season, you’re certainly not in the relegation zone.”
Dickson said that 2017/18 was more of a building year for the team, as the squad saw additional players join from Campbell River and down-Island.
“I assumed we’d do a bit better than we did, but given [that we brought] together a pretty broad spectrum of players and a large roster, I think we did fairly well to come together,” he said. “Especially towards the end of the season.”
Pre-season training for the 2018/19 VISL season begins in the summer.