Rich get richer: Newcomers help Cowichan FC claim another Jackson Cup

With four Jackson Cup titles in the past seven years, and six championship game appearances in that span, you’re in dynasty territory.

Cowichan FC is like the San Antonio Spurs of the Vancouver Island Soccer League: Always there, always banging on the door, and knocking it down more than a few times.

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“All the championships have been special and unique in their own way,” said Tyler Hughes, the Cowichan FC veteran back-line stalwart and assistant coach.

Cowichan FC got goals in overtime Sunday afternoon from Cooper Barry and Paddy Nelson to defeat Bays United Liquor Plus 2-0 in the 101st Jackson Cup final before 867 fans at Royal Athletic Park.

If you can’t beat them, get them to join you. Former Saanich Fusion stars Barry and Nelson, along with former Sooke ace Steve Scott, are among the potent strikers that have joined Cowichan FC over the past few seasons, along with the explosive scorer and UVic Vikes graduate Craig Gorman. It is sort of like the VISL version of those musical supergroups that were put together like Cream, Blind Faith, Asia, and the Traveling Wilburys.

“We hated playing against Cooper [Barry] and Paddy [Nelson] when they were with Fusion . . . Paddy scored against us in overtime in one Jackson Cup final,” said Hughes.

Now they are scoring for Cowichan FC, not against it.

“It’s great to have them,” said Hughes. “They are great leaders and quality players.”

The clean sheet was recorded by Scott Brown for a Cowichan FC side that has lost only once in regular-season or cup play this year.

Cowichan FC, however, is not done. This is a team with bigger ambitions.

“We separate our season into three phases — the league [which Cowichan FC also won], Jackson Cup and Province Cup,” added Hughes, the former pro and NCAA star and Coastal Carolina Hall of Famer.

The draw for the latter will be held tonight at the Strathcona Hotel. The 2016 men’s Province Cup finals are May 14 at Westhills Stadium and the women’s there on May 15.

“We have experienced players who know it’s now time to shift our focus to the next phase, which is the Province Cup,” said Hughes.

Also advancing are Bays, featuring Tyler’s brother and veteran star striker Jordie Hughes. Bays played in their fourth Jackson Cup final Sunday. Head coach Rich Fast, in his 22nd year with the club, has been part of all of them. This was his third final as coach after one as a player. Fast guided the Bays to their lone championship in 2013.

Also advancing to the Province Cup from the VISL are Saanich Fusion, Nanaimo United and a rising young Comox Valley side.

The Jackson Cup final wrapped up the VISL championship weekend at Royal Athletic Park. It began with Saanich Fusion Old School defeating Salt Spring United 4-1 in the Tony Grover Cup final for the Masters championship. In the George Pearkes Challenge Cup final, for the championship of Divisions 3A-3B through 4A-4B, Juan de Fuca blanked Saanich Fusion Harris Dodge 2-0. Saanich Fusion beat Gorge FC 2-0 in the George Smith Cup Under-21 championship game.

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