Avoiding ties helped Cowichan LMG Pringle stay ahead of the pack in Div. 1 of the Island Soccer League.
But the situation has changed drastically in the last three weeks, with Cowichan playing to ties against the bottom two teams in the division.
A chance at the league title to complement its recent Jackson Cup success now seems remote for Cowichan.
Cowichan’s game on the road against Prospect Lake Feb. 2 finished scoreless, the same result that occurred two weeks ago when Cowichan and Salt Spring Island both failed to produce any goals.
Prospect is in ninth place with just seven points and Salt Spring is last with six. Yet, Cowichan couldn’t match its vaunted offense of a year ago with a goal against either team.
As a result, Bays United Liquor Plus has taken over top spot with a 14-1 record for 42 points from 15 games. Cowichan slipped to second at 13-1-2 for 41 points from 16 games and Saanich Fusion stands third at 13-1-1 for 40 points from 15 games.
Cowichan visited the Fusion Friday, Feb. 8 (after our press deadline) and could have dropped all the way to third if it didn’t get a result.
While the Cowichan defence remains strong with just eight goals against, the offence isn’t producing the goals.
“It’s a little depressing. We couldn’t put it away,’’ said Cowichan coach Glen Martin of the Prospect Lake game.
“They worked hard. They had a game plan. They sat back and absorbed a lot of punishment.’’
The Prospect goalkeeper made three key saves off Tyler Hughes. Cowichan also had an apparent goal by Ryan Andre nullified on an offside.
Martin felt optimistic at halftime that something would break in the second half.
“It was just feeling like it was a matter of time,’’ he said.
Cowichan goalie Joel Wilson was forced to make a couple of key saves on Prospect counterattacks. “We were pressing hard,’’ said Martin.
Jesse Winter was not in the lineup, but Cowichan found an admirable fill-in to play alongside Hughes in Brennen McCleary from the Victoria Highlanders.
The key game with the Fusion will be followed in short order by a first round Jackson Cup battle against Bays United Feb. 16.
“If defence wins the Cup, we’re going to be in good shape,’’ said Martin.