Cowichan FC in fine form

Cowichan defeated Bays United 2-0 in the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 regular-season opener.

It looks like Cowichan LMG Pringle is practically in mid-season form already.

Cowichan kept the pace up in the Island Soccer League Div. 1 regular-season opener Fri., Sept. 7, at Sherman Road Park and connected for two late goals to defeat Bays United Liquor Plus 2-0.

The game was a rematch of the Jackson Cup finalists from last season.

“It was an exciting game,’’ said Cowichan coach Glen Martin. “Overall, it was a good win for us. I think we wore them down in the end.’’

Cowichan product Riley Taiji, 21, who’s playing with the team until January before returning to Cornell University, concurred.

Bays United provided a considerable challenge for the first game of the season, but Cowichan enjoyed the overall territorial advantage.

“They’re a big counterattack team,’’ said Taiji. “We could see from the start that’s how they were going to beat us.’’

But the last 20 minutes told the tale.

“I think that’s where our fitness came in,’’ said Taiji.

In hindsight, Martin was kind of glad to be playing Bays in the first game.

“They’re a team that builds up as the year goes on,’’ he said.

A great crowd of about 200 people turned out to watch the battle.

Ladysmith’s Matt Arnett just shot wide on an early chance. Bays settled in a bit after that, but its chances at goalkeeper Joel Wilson were confined to long shots.

In the scoreless first half, “chances were pretty even, but we had more territory in their half,’’ said Martin.

Tinkering with the lineup paid off for Martin. He put son Robbie in for Dan Citra with less than 20 minutes to play, and Bram Taylor promptly scored on a header off a corner kick.

Ladysmith’s  Ryan Andre added the insurance marker on another header off a long throw-in by Winter.

“Two set pieces, which is good,’’ said Glen Martin. “That’s what we work a lot on.’’

Martin also kept the heat on Bays by bringing in George Horne and Kevin Jones as subs.

The game turned a bit chippy near the end. Bays received five yellow cards in the end and Cowichan picked up two.

Next action is Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Gorge.

Taiji, meanwhile, is enjoying his time with the team and plans to make the most of it.

“It’s such a solid group of guys,’’ he said. “It’s nice to come and fit in right in the first game.’’