Cermaq City FC have enjoyed an eventful opening couple of weeks in the Division Three Vancouver Island Soccer League.
Their opening game of the year saw a solid 3-0 victory over Castaways FC at the local Quinsam field. This game was followed 24 hours later with a game against Hellas of Victoria. Hellas were the in-form team with six straight wins behind them. Cermaq earned a hard fought 0-0 draw in what was a very physical and spirited encounter.
One week later saw the local team entertain Saanich Fusion. The Fusion had been top of the Division all season but going into the game Cermaq were only one point behind with a game in hand. The pressure was on Saanich to claim a valuable win if the league was to remain in their hands.
Despite the inclement weather the game certainly caught the imagination of the Campbell River soccer community as a large crowd gathered to see the potential Title decider.
Once again it proved a spirited affair. Saanich started the better of the two teams and dominated the early play. Keeper Beau Belle Oudry had to be very sharp to keep out a strong early shot and moments later an excellent low cross was gathered in superb fashion.
Cermaq did settle down and behan to enjoy some useful possession. After 24 minutes Cermaq earned a corner. It was drilled in by Rob Shaw, Wyatt Bryce rose in majestic fashion to knock the ball back across the face of goal where a courageous header from the oncoming Matt Woof saw the ball fly into the back of the net.
Bryce could have made it two when he was one on one with the keeper but for a wonderful save. Saanich were to tie the game when they themselves scored from a corner. The ball was not cleared from the first challenge and the Saanich Fusion had far too much time to fire the ball into the net. The second half saw an excellent performance from Cermaq. They pinned Saanich back for long spells but the visitors defended in brilliant fashion.
The game remained at 1-1 and Cermaq although wanting the win were certainly the happier of the two teams with the draw.
This past weekend saw Cermaq play Castaways in Victoria.
Before a ball was kicked the local side received the welcome news that Saanich had lost their game the previous night 2-1 against Bays United. This meant if Cermaq could get at least a draw out of the game they would go on top. The Castaways game was played under the lights on the all weather turf at Pacific Institute of Sports Education.
Despite the long road trip the Campbell River side brought an excellent squad and confidence was high. Castaways lying fourth in the league have proven a stubborn defensive team at home so it would be an interesting game.
The early exchanges saw Cermaq take charge. It was like a battlefield in the middle of the park but Mark Ross, Shaw and Bryce were up to the challenge. Up front Woof, Shane Dumanoir and Edgar Cramner were beginning to assert themselves but Cermaq were rocked when Castaways on virtually their first foray forward scored with a fast counter attack. Despite again enjoying most possession Cermaq failed to create any real chances and went into at half the goal down.
The second half saw an excellent start from Cermaq as their general movement on and off the ball was quicker. The opportunities began to appear but a hint of anxiety was apparent as chances came and went begging. It was Woof again, continuing his fine run of scoring, who was to get the equaliser.
Once again it was a brave header from the edge of the 18 yard box that was to catch the keeper off his line. Cermaq created several other chances and time after time the keeper made solid saves.
Meanwhile, at the other end Castaways had a number of free kicks which put pressure upon the backline. Cermaq stood strong however and were more than worthy of their third successive draw.
The point was critical however as the Campbell River side now sit atop of the league. They have the same points as Saanich but a superior goal difference of 10 means they are the top team. Saanich have one league game remaining and Cermaq have two. This coming weekend sees a bye for Cermaq and on Saturday Feb 07 they travel to Victoria to play Gorge. A win will secure the Championship. The following week they have their final league game on Feb 15 against Gulf Island with a 2pm KO at Willow Point.