A hat-trick from Grayson Chalifoux and a pair of goals from U18 call-up Nathan Chow secured a narrow Jackson Cup (Vancouver Island championship) victory for the Comox Valley United Division 1 men’s soccer team.
In the opening round Feb. 24 in Nanaimo, CVU faced the Mid Isle Mariners, who were the favourites based on their third-place standing in the VISL. United is ninth among the 10 teams in first division.
Three minutes into the game, United was awarded a corner kick, from which a header from Chow found the back of the net. Shortly thereafter, Mid Isle tied the match due to a defensive breakdown.
Five minutes later, the Mariners had a free kick from a distance where the ball landed inside the box, somehow eluded everyone and bounced into the net. Two minutes later, another Comox defensive breakdown had Mid Isle up by two with plenty of time left in the first half. After some shuffling in the lineup, CVU created numerous chances, including a penalty shot, but the half ended 3-1 for the Mariners.
“In the change room, the attitude was still positive as Comox was generating the majority of the chances, and there was still lots of soccer to be played,” CVU’s Rob Caya said.
Seven minutes into the second half, Mid Isle capitalized on a juicy rebound and went up 4-1.
Then Comox started to rally.
Chalifoux scored at the 60-minute mark, again at 68 minutes, and at 70 minutes. Chow scored the go-ahead goal at the 80th minute.
CVU held on to win 5-4.
United followed up with a 4-1 league win Sunday in Victoria over Fernwood Town, which sits in the basement of the Div. 1 standings.
“It was a great, full-team performance overall,” CVU’s Stefan Szkwarek said. “The game started well for us as we carried the play and created seven scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes.”
On the eighth chance, game MVP Nick Marinus calmly slotted home the opener, but a few minutes later Fernwood was awarded a penalty shot and equalized.
“From that point until approximately minute 60, the game was in the balance and Beau Belle-Oudry made a match-winning stop early in the second half,” Szkwarek said.
After a spell of Fernwood pressure, Kyle Bate regained possession for CVU in the opposition end and delivered a cross which was nodded home by Chalifoux. Moments later, Bate scored a cracker from distance, and Marinus scored his second to seal the match with 15 minutes to play.
United’s focus switches back to the cup with a Saturday game versus Gorge D2 at 4 p.m.