Week 7 of the 2023/24 Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) is in the books and it is safe to say that it did not go according to plan. The Vegas bookmakers will have lost its fair share with what would be classified as three upsets from the weekend.
Friday had upset number one as Nanaimo defeated visiting Lakehill 4-1 thanks to goals from Daragh Fitzgerald, Matt Mehrassa, Andres Algarin, and a Lakehill own goal. Slotting the single marker for Lakehill was Blair Sturrock. Game MVP for Nanaimo on the night was Andres Algarin, while Norbert Cedric Aba earned the honour for the visitors.
Next up on Friday was the table topping Game of the Week, and it did not disappoint as league leaders Vic West shutout second placed, and previously unbeaten, Gorge FC 3-0. Ian Whibley, Salem Almardy, and Niklas Hallam found the net for Vic West, while earning his first clean sheet of the year was goalkeeper Michael Asong. Niklas Hallam received Man of the Match honours, while Hatim El Azhari was voted MVP for Gorge.
Friday finished up with another shocker as Westcastle shutout Bays Utd 3-0. Goal scorers for Westcastle were Carlos Ng, Lucas Casemore, and Ian Pichardo. Shutting out the Bays squad was keeper Hans Haagerup. Retsin Kabambala was named Westcastle MVP, while Silvain Taghaoussi was the man for Bays.
Saturday got started with a bang as home team Powell River Villa defeated Cowichan Axis 1-0. Villa scored a late one in the 87th minute courtesy of Casper Poelen. Keeper Matt Liknes earned his first shutout of the year. Liknes was named game MVP for Villa, while Michael Daniels got the nod for Cowichan.
Saturday wrapped up with a close match up island as Comox slipped by the Victoria Highlanders 2-1. Comox had both goals scored by Matthew Dooling. Highlanders goal was scored by Yanive Solomon. Matthew Dooling was MVP for Comox, and Charles Orbaugh was for the visitors.
So after all of that action, here’s what the VISL Division 1 standings look like after Week 7:
Vic West are the lions staring down at the rest now, undefeated, and looking strong. Gorge is alone in 2nd place, but several teams are pretty close by. Several winners at the bottom this weekend only means bad news for the Highlanders as that gap widens.
There’s an odd storyline happening with goalkeepers this year, with several on each team sharing duties. Several keepers have one clean sheet to their name, but only two keepers have two clean sheets and they are Nanaimo United’s Scott Brown and Lakehill’s Quin Henry.
There were a fair few goals on the weekend and almost all on the leaderboard added to their totals. Ian Whibley still is leading the way in the race to the Golden Boot, with linemate Salem Almardy nipping at his heals. Those two players have accounted for 30 of their teams 36 goals.
Here’s how the Golden Boot standings look after Week 7:
An amazing weekend of soccer up and down the island and there’s more to come this weekend.
Things get underway Friday night with the Game of the Week at Sherman Road Turf as Cowichan Axis host Bays United. This game will also double up as the McGavin Cup Final – a trophy in competition since 1934 when first won by the Saanich Thistles. Both teams are coming off losses, so both will want to get back to winning ways, especially as they are neck and neck in the middle of the standings. Home field advantage (or at least the non travel) might just be the deciding factor.
Originally scheduled on Saturday, but a late move to the UVic turf on Friday night will see Westcastle hosting top dog Vic West. (We wish the Rebels well in the playoff matchup). Simple one here – Westcastle will need to come up huge to take down the undefeated Vic West team. Speed will be a factor, but Vic West has plenty of that too.
Saturday is a busy one, and in gets started in Powell River as Villa hosts Lakehill. Villa is coming off a huge home win, while Lakehill a disappointing road loss. Travel again will be key here as Lakehill might be in tough for numbers available for the big trip.
Next up in the north island will be Comox Valley hosting Nanaimo Utd. While it would appear that Nanaimo has bolstered their lineup, this is another road game, something they do not do well. Comox will be in tough, but they will battle, just not sure if that will be enough.
To wrap up the weekend, at Hampton Turf in Saanich, Gorge FC will host the Victoria Highlanders. Highlanders are looking for their first points of the season, so this would appear to be a simple match for Gorge. The young Highlanders team will look to catch the 2nd place team off guard and snatch some points.
Here’s the full slate of Division 1 matches for this weekend:
Thanks for supporting local grassroots soccer – and the players that work, live, play, and go to school in your community. A reminder you can find all the results and fixtures, across all the divisions, at VISL.org.