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Comox Valley United has busy men's soccer schedule ahead of them

The 101st Jackson Cup is being contested by 19 teams from Div. 1 and Div. 2 of the Vancouver Island Soccer League.

Their regular season is winding down, but big things still await Comox Valley United as the 2016 portion of the Vancouver Island Soccer League season unfolds.

United is tied with Saanich Fusion for second place in Div. 1 as both teams sport identical 9-3-2 records. The local side, which closed out the 2015 portion of their regular season with three straight road wins, has four RS games remaining.

They open the new year with a bang on Jan. 16 when they host Saanich (6 p.m. Vanier Turf Field). The Fusion won the first meeting between the teams 2-1 back on Oct. 17 in Saanich.

After road games Jan. 23 at fifth-place Gorge FC and Jan. 30 at fourth-place Nanaimo United, Comox Valley closes out the season at home Feb. 6 against sixth-place Lakehill FC.

The local men will then turn their attention to the Jackson Cup. The draw was made Jan. 4 in Victoria, and United is one of 19 Div. 1 and Div. 2 teams vying for Sir John Jackson's venerable trophy (now in its 101st year).

Their cup bid kicks off Feb. 12-14 with the play-in round when they take on Div. 2 Castaways, with time and location TBA. The single knockout tourney continues with Round 1 on Feb. 19-21 (with the winner of Comox Valley vs. Castaways meeting Div. 1 Westcastle), Round 2 (quarter-finals) March 4-6, Round 3 (semifinals) March 18-20 and Round 4 (final) on April 3 at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park.

In 2015, United's first season in Div. 1, they dropped their opening round Jackson Cup match 3-1 to Div. 1 Cowichan FC.

The VISL notes the Jackson Cup was first played for in the 1914/15 season after the trophy was donated by Sir John Jackson, a British engineer contracted to build the Ogden Point breakwater in Victoria.

His belief was a healthy worker was a productive worker and as such encouraged his workers to participate in sport. Apart from the First and Second World War years, the cup has been competed for every year since 1914.

There have been 92 winners in all, with several clubs winning the trophy multiple times.

THROW INS United's Mack Zirkl is tied for second in VISL shutouts with three…no Comox Valley players were selected for the VISL all-star games which take place today (Jan. 9) at Prospect Lake…nine players from Div. 1 leaders Cowichan FC and three from Saanich are on the Div. 1 team that will take on the Fraser Valley Soccer League Premier League all stars … the 15-player VISL Div. 1 all-star team was selected by the Cowichan FC coaching staff …