The atmosphere was everything it could have been – a couple hundred passionate fans on a rainless mid-March evening at The Log, demonstrating what Sooke is known for throughout the Vancouver Island Soccer League’s first division. It was enhanced by a couple of chainsaw engines revving in harmony.
The picture would have been complete with loud post-game shouts congratulating the hosts on a trip to the Jackson Cup Final and a berth in the provincial action known as “The BCs.”
But the high fives were being done by the guys in black, the guys from Cowichan FC who travelled to Sooke and left with the same rewards craved by Sooke Celtic.
The 3-0 Cowichan win followed by a week Celtic’s dramatic 2-1 overtime win over Nanaimo, an achievement described by playing coach Steve Scott as one of his team’s best ever efforts.
Maybe the arsenal was used up on that night, because Celtic was just unable to find its legs against the dudes from Duncan.
Cowichan was full value for the win on a spongy field at Fred Milne Park (The Log). Sooke may have only had a couple of clean shots on goal all night – very well defended by the Cowichan club. Goalie Kevin James was not overworked in this one.
The first half ended with Cowichan up by a pair.
A glimmer of Sooke hope was dashed early in the second half when it appeared they had scored, but the play was ruled offside.
Cowichan went on to close out the scoring and seal the deal later in the half. Scorers were Dave Seager with two, and Ryan Andre.
Cowichan next meets Juan de Fuca in the Jackson Cup final, most likely at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park, time and date TBA.
“We played smart,” said Cowichan coach Glen Martin. “We had a game plan. It’s not pretty soccer, no nice little touches here and there.
“It’s all kick long and run and chase, tackle hard…it’s worked out good so far.”
“We played a really great game,” said Cowichan defender and captain Jesse Winters. “Everyone played unbelievable, all up the field… midfield, backline… outstanding. And the guys up front scoring goals when they had to.”
As for his take on the Sooke effort, Winters said, “I wouldn’t say they weren’t in it.
“They had chances at the start. It’s an equalizing field so it brings you to the same level.”
Cowichan was clearly well-motivated from the get-go and Winters said it was simply a case of his team doing a better job of executing.
Sooke coach/striker Steve Scott pointed to desire as the dominant factor.
“They came out and they wanted it much more than we did. We didn’t come out like it was a Jackson Cup semi-final.
“We were just flat everywhere. You know, it happens sometimes, it’s unlucky and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
“There was just nothing that really got us going. Unfortunately that happened to be the biggest game of the year for us.”
Celtic will have another couple of chances to end the season on a more positive note, starting this Friday night at Hampton Park in Saanich with a game against Gorge FC.