It was the comeback of a season for the Comox Valley’s top soccer team on a chilly night at the Vanier turf field on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Even though they trailed 4-1 with just 15 minutes left on the clock, Comox Valley United’s div. 1 side battled back to score three unanswered goals against the visiting Westcastle United, tying the game 4-4 and stunning the visitors from Victoria.
Following the final whistle, Comox Valley’s head coach Carey Cordocedo called it a “back and forth” kind of match.
“They had their moments for sure, but we played well going forward too,” said Cordocedo. “The difference was that they capitalized on their chances [early on] and we didn’t, at least until the end of the game.
“It was just a great team effort and the guys put in a shift, for sure.”
Comox Valley’s goal-scoring blitz came after Westcastle player Koen Schoffner was sent off for a second yellow card with 20 minutes to go. With a man advantage, the home side poured men forward, scoring three goals in the last 15 minutes to salvage the tie.
“They went up 4-1, but we stuck to our tactics of going wide, which helped us,” said Comox Valley United defender and vice-captain Graham McNeill. “We managed to keep digging and we were able to get back into the game.”
While the two teams were fairly matched, it was the visitors who initially took advantage of their chances. Despite being composed of mostly teenagers, Westcastle passed the ball around comfortably and showed composure in front of goal.
Westcastle led 3-1 at halftime, with two goals from Schoffner and one from Koby Greaves. Comox Valley’s only goal in the first half came from Grayson Chalifoux.
“Obviously they were a tough opposition,” said McNeill. “Really young and crafty. They moved the ball around quickly and they were really frustrating to deal with at first.”
Westcastle went up 4-1 midway through the second half with a breakaway goal from forward Ethan Monaghan. Down by three with less than 30 minutes left to play, the game looked out of reach for the Comox Valley side.
But with a couple of smart substitutions from Cordocedo — and the man advantage following Schoffner’s red card — the home team rallied back with goals from central midfielder and team captain Kyle Bate, another from Chailfoux and Kellen Arnink.
McNeill said Bate was the catalyst that spurred Comox Valley United to stage the comeback.
“I think he was the guy who started turning things around. He stayed positive and nicked our second goal, which started the momentum builder.”
The draw keeps Comox Valley United in sixth place in the 10-team Vancouver Island Soccer League’s first division with a 2-2-2 record after six games.
Saturday’s match was the first of three consecutive home games for Comox Valley United. The team is back in action on Saturday, Oct. 21 against fourth-place Vic West FC.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at the Vanier turf field.