A beautiful evening at Braefoot Park Friday Night as the VISL kicked off Division 1 play.
2 teams in what some would call rebuilding phases.
Lakehill coming off a season where they were in the relegation zone but were able to maintain their position in Division 1 because their 2nd Division team earned the right to promote. This came to be an opportunity as the 2nd place team in Division 2 last year (Prospect Lake) decided not to promote to Division 1. The choice finally came to Lakehill as the 3rd place Cowichan team also did not want to promote as they had a team in Division 1 already. Lakehill ended up being on the fortunate side of timing – and were able to keep a team in the top flight.
Saanich Fusion (formerly Gordon Head) have had great success locally in the last 5 years. They had finished 1st – 3rd almost every year and had some success at the Jackson Cup level as well. They just went through a coaching change where long time coach Steph Steiner decided to step away and take a break from coaching mens soccer. Taking his place is a 1st time Division 1 coach in Ian Bush. Bush has had some local success as coach in the U21 Division as well as D1vison 3. A big opportunity to steer the flagship Division 1 team – and a big challenge to say the least. It appears as a large number of last year’s Saanich Fusions players decided to switch clubs. Some have gone on to play at Vic West and others with Gorge. Players of note that have left to play with other teams are former Rookie of the Year and Division MVP Leo Falzon, players: Angus Hayman, Cardin Davis, Matthias Raps, & very strong players in Bryan Taylor & Dominic Colantonio.
The game itself featured what seemed to be a lot of young players for both teams. No shortage of speed and it was clear that both teams wanted to start the year off right. Both teams had chances in the 1st half but it was Lakehill that opened the scoring late in the 1st half at the 43’ mark. After strong build up from Lakehill’s right midfielder Nour-Eddine Zizo, a corner kick and eventual scramble led to a goal by Zakaria Bourgraine. Zakaria was so happy with his goal that is what noted by fans that he ran 35 yards to embrace a fan in his defensive 1/3 of the field. The half came to an end with the score 1-0 in favor of Lakehill.
The 2nd Half had plenty of chances for both teams. Saanich Fusion could have easily tied the game if they would have put more shots on the Lakehill goal. It should be noted that Lakehill Keeper Deep Gahunia was up for the challenge when it presented itself and had to make a couple big saves to preserve the lead. Lakehill coul;d have also added to their lead but were unable to put the game out of reach.
At the end of 90’, the score remained 1-0 in favor of the red team. Lakehill earns a valuable 3 points to start off the season while Saanich Fusion takes some positives out of the game knowing that they could have earned a point at the end of the day.
Officiating crew led by Evan Fryer did an excellent job in letting the players play within the rules.
Lakehill MVP of Game- Deep Gahunia
Lakehill Rookie of Game – Kyle O’Connor
SF MVP of Game – Justin Atwal
SF Rookie of Game – Andrew Flello
Next up for Saanich Fusion is Nanaimo United on Friday Sept 23
Next up for Lakehill is Gorge FC on Sat Sept 24