Sooke Celtic will host Nanaimo FC in a Jackson Cup match that has all the makings of a thriller.
Backing up just a tad, Sooke geared up for this week’s showdown with a dominant display on a mucky, sponge-like pitch last Friday night at The Log.
The div-2 Gordon Head Blazers provided the opposition in a game which was also a stop on the Jackson Cup trail.
The field was a water-based theme park. After scoring the opening goal Daniel Bergerud did a full speed chest skid as part of his celebration, much to the joy of sideline boosters.
The final score was 6-1. Mike Moon added a pair with singles going to Paul Rudd, Mike McKay and Steve Scott.
Notable on the night was a particularly sensational save by Blake Ridley. A Gordon Head shooter had blasted one to the top right corner that an airborne Ridley was barely able to get his knuckles on. The highlight save effetively snuffed out what may have otherwise rallied the visitors.
The competition will surely intensify this Friday night at 8 as a squad Celtic coach/striker Steve Scott feels could be “the best team in the VISL” comes calling.
Statistically this is an ideal pairing.
Sooke and Nanaimo are fifth and sixth in the first division with 28 and 21 points, respectively. Celtic has scored one more goal and they’re dead even in goals allowed.
Where it gets interesting is on the Nanaimo roster.
“They’ve got a bunch of the university guys who don’t play for the first half of the season,” Scott observed.
“They’re doing really well right now, it’ll be a tough game.” Scott said the lineup includes players from the Victoria Highlanders organization, and overall the Nanaimo crew is young and fast, much like Celtic.
“We’re going to have to hold the fort,” said Scott, “and make sure they don’t score.”
Nanaimo’s manager Frank Klemencic was eagerly awaiting the match-up.
“…expecting another epic Sooke-Nanaimo battle,” he indicated in a Monday email, “always a war out there. I’m not sure why its become so over the past few years but it just seems to have become destined that the two teams will meet at Jackson Cup time. This is at least the third or fourth meeting over the past five years.”
Klemencic credits Celtic as being an “extremely hardworking group that’s been able to to kind of rebuild on the fly.” He acknowledged the threat posed by Sooke’s talented strikers.
“Obviously we’ll have to key on Steve Scott and Mike Moon,” he related. “Those two are game-changers and we can’t allow them to get free.”
Game time, once again is 8 p.m. this Friday at The Log (Fred Milne Park on Sooke River Road).