Cowichan FC closing in on Province Cup final

Jackson Cup champion Cowichan FC is attempting to become the first Island team to win the men’s Province Cup since Gorge FC captured four B.C. championships between 2001 and 2010. Cowichan FC crosses the strait today to play EDC Burnaby in the semifinals.

“As we’ve progressed each season the past six years, we’ve changed our mindset to not being content with just playing in the Province Cup but to going in with the goal of realistically winning the Cup,” said veteran Cowichan FC defender Tyler Hughes.

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“We broke our season goals down into three phases — winning the Island regular-season title and then Jackson Cup, which we have done, and then the Province Cup. We have two difficult games remaining to reach that last goal.”

Which would also get Cowichan FC to the Canadian championships next fall.

Cowichan needed its ample offensive arsenal — players such as Craig Gorman, Cooper Barry, Steve Scott, Patrick Nelson, Romaie Martin — in full working order to get past Abbotsford United 4-3 in a spirited opening round-game before tightening up considerably in a 2-0 quarter-final victory over Langley FC.

“We loaded up in the off-season with offensive talent. We know we can score goals. It will come down to us playing well defensively,” added Hughes, who played pro in the USL and Sweden after a U.S. collegiate NCAA all-conference career that earned him induction into the Coastal Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

The EDC Burnaby side opened with a 3-0 victory over Vic West, before putting away Richmond Hibs 4-1 in the quarter-finals.

The Cowichan-Burnaby winner plays the winner of the semifinal between Inter FC and North Delta in the Province Cup final.

The Victoria Highlanders, meanwhile, are looking to continue their charmed run through the women’s Province Cup with a semifinal date against fellow Metro Women’s Soccer League-rival North Shore on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Royal Athletic Park.

“Every team [in the Metro League] has a number of past players from university — CIS and NCAA — and a number of former youth and senior national team players, who have also played for the Whitecaps in the USL W League,” said Highlanders head coach Dave Dew.

The Highlander women opened the Province Cup with a 3-2 victory over Fraser Valley Action. That was followed by a 1-0 quarter-final victory last weekend at Layritz Park over Prospect Lake, which had gone undefeated this season at 17-0 in the Lower Island League regular season.

The other women’s Province Cup semifinal also features an Island team, but the Victoria Athletics may have the most unenviable task in the entirety of B.C. soccer. The A’s, who blanked Richmond FC 1-0 in the quarter-finals, have drawn the 11-time defending Province Cup champion Surrey United dynasty for their semifinal Sunday in Cloverdale.

The women’s B Province Cup features three Island teams in the Final Four with Prospect Lake playing Gorge FC and Vic West taking on Vancouver United. The men’s B Province Cup side has Port Alberni Athletics advancing to the semifinals against Langley Sparta on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. at Alberni High School.

The Victoria Highlanders organization has also advanced to the Province Cup semifinals in U-21 men’s, with the Highlanders Prospects meeting Surrey United at 3 p.m. Sunday at PISE.

Meanwhile, Saanich Fusion Old School is through to the men’s Masters (O-35) Province Cup semifinals and plays Croatia SC on Sunday on the Lower Mainland.

The women’s Province Cup championship games are May 9 and the men’s May 10, all in Langley.

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