Cowichan LMG FC to Defend Jackson Cup Title After Dispatching Gorge FC in Semi-Finals

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Cowichan's Jamie Taylor (centre) is held back on this rush by the Gorge's Mark Cottrell (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

March 17, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Cowichan LMG Football Club will have a chance to defend their 2016 Jackson Cup title and secure their third Cup in a row, as they defeated Gorge FC 2-1 Friday night, in Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Jackson Cup semi-final action on a rain-soaked St. Patrick’s Day evening at Hampton Park in Victoria.

The Gorge FC's Aaron Murphy weaves his way past Cowichan defenders early in Friday's game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Gorge FC’s Aaron Murphy weaves his way past Cowichan defenders early in Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Cooper Barry (right) plays a bit of keep away from the Gorge's Jordan French (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Cooper Barry (right) plays a bit of keep away from the Gorge’s Jordan French (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win advances Cowichan to their seventh Cup final in the last eight years (Sunday April 2, 2:30 pm at Royal Athletic Park), where they will play either the VI Wave or Nanaimo United, who battle in the second semi-final Saturday evening at Merl Logan Field in Nanaimo.

Gorge FC's Jordan French looks for a way through traffic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Gorge FC’s Jordan French looks for a way through traffic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Cooper Barry (left) looks to dribble past Gorge's Max Legg (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Cooper Barry (left) looks to dribble past Gorge’s Max Legg (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Playing hero for Cowichan on Friday was Cooper Barry, who scored the winning goal  roughly halfway through the second half, heading a crossing pass just inside the right post and past the reach of Gorge goaltender Iain Walker.

Cowichan's Patrick Nelson (centre) gets a kick away while surrounded by Gorge's Eddy Lawson (left) and Brennen McCleary (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Patrick Nelson (centre) gets a kick away while surrounded by Gorge’s Eddy Lawson (left) and Brennen McCleary (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Patrick Nelson (left) struggles to manoeuvre by Gorge's Brennen McCleary (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Patrick Nelson (left) struggles to manoeuvre by Gorge’s Brennen McCleary (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The game was a tough physical battle that saw a number of hard tackles, with the teams exchanging penalty kick goals to go into half-time knotted 1-1. Scoring first for Gorge was Jordan French, while Cowichan responded with a crisp strike from Patrick Nelson.

Gorge's Drew Brittain (right) kicks the ball into the Cowichan end under pressure from Cowichan's Jamie Taylor (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Gorge’s Drew Brittain (right) kicks the ball into the Cowichan end under pressure from Cowichan’s Jamie Taylor (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Anton Bucher (left) and Gorge's Drew Brittain (right) go up for a header (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Anton Bucher (left) and Gorge’s Drew Brittain (right) go up for a header (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The physical nature of the play almost caused a major issue late in the game, as Gorge, pressing hard to score, missed a close in chance on a free kick thanks to a nice save by Cowichan goaltender Scott Brown.  Following the save, Wilson was bowled over by Gorge’s Aaron Murphy.  Much like what happens in a hockey game when that sort of thing happens, Cowichan’s players came to Brown’s defence and some pushing and shoving ensued.  Cooler head fortunately prevailed, but Murphy was issued a red card for his actions and ejected from the game.

Cowichan's DanCato (centre) is held back by Gorge's Max Legg (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s DanCato (centre) is held back by Gorge’s Max Legg (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Patrick Nelson (right) and Gorge's Brennen McCleary (left) put on the brakes while chasing a loose ball Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Patrick Nelson (right) and Gorge’s Brennen McCleary (left) put on the brakes while chasing a loose ball Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Following the melee, Gorge continued to press, but Cowichan was able to clear the ball well out of danger on each push and ran the clock out to secure the win.

In addition to advancing to the Cup final, Cowichan’s win also gives them a leg up in the season series between the two Division 1 teams, as Gorge defeated Cowichan 2-1 on September 16, while Cowichan turned the tables on November 18, winning 3-2.

The Gorge's Aaron Murphy is shown the red card after bowling over the Cowichan goaltender late in Friday's game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
The Gorge’s Aaron Murphy is shown the red card after bowling over the Cowichan goaltender late in Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan's Brad Archibald (15) gets ready to congratulate a smiling Cooper Barry (9) after Barry scored what turned out to be the game winning goal against Gorge FC (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Cowichan’s Brad Archibald (15) gets ready to congratulate a smiling Cooper Barry (9) after Barry scored what turned out to be the game winning goal against Gorge FC (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Cowichan also sits in first place in Division 1 of the VISL with a 13-2 record, five points up on second place Vic West with three games left to play.

See more images from this game at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/f373407129

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