VISL relegation battle goes down to the wire as Jackson Cup takes centre stage

VISL relegation battle goes down to the wire as Jackson Cup takes centre stage

A busy family weekend of adult mens soccer was played up and down the Island, with some families going home happier than others.

Here’s a snapshot of how the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL) Division 1 action played out this past weekend.

First up on Friday night was Nanaimo beating Cowichan 2-0 to solidify their 2nd place. Kule Kambere and Colin Jacques were on target for Nanaimo. Recording his fourth shutout of the year was keeper Geoff Hackett.

Friday also saw the Victoria Highlanders slip past Vic West 2-1 thanks to a pair of goals from Lachlan Will. Notching the single for Vic West was Andres Algarin.

Saturday saw a battle in Powell River as the hometown Villa and Juan de Fuca Allflows squared off at 2-2. Both Powell River goals came from Niko Cristante, while both Allflow goals were scored by Ethan Emile.

Another big matchup from the bottom of the table saw Gorge defeat Comox 2-1 thanks to goals from Kaelan Cooke and Brennen McCleary. The lone marker for Comox was scored by Kyle Bate.

The final matchup of the weekend saw Lakehill defeat Westcastle 7-1. Lakehill saw goals from Jordan Easton, Blair Sturrock, Craig Gorman, and Jon Shah hit a fantastic four. Adding the single for Westcastle was Norbert Cedric Aba.
So after all of those weekend results, here’s how the VISL Division 1 standings look:

Nanaimo and Vic West wins have confirmed their final standings as 2nd and 3rd. With Lakehill defeating Westcastle, that confirms the young squad will be relegated to division 2 for next year for finishing in last place. A Gorge win also confirms that they will not be in the relegation zone.

With a couple of games left, what is left to sort out> The answer is which other teams will be in the relegation zone and face possible demotion to the 2nd tier. Comox, Powell River, and Juan de Fuca will sort that out in a couple of weeks most likely.

Another shutout on the weekend moves Nanaimo’s Geoff Hackett up the Golden Gloves leaderboard, chasing Lakehill’s Hardeep Gahunia, who he sits one behind. The goal scoring race has all been but decided. Blair Sturrock added another on the weekend and looks poised to take home his first ever Golden Boot Award.

It was a jam packed weekend that answered a lot of questions, but still leaves a couple with regards to final relegation spots.

There was a make-up match on Tuesday night and Victoria Highlanders went nap against Nanaimo United, running out 5-0 winners thanks to braces from Leo Sanchez and Lachlan Will, with Samuel Vieira also on the scoresheet.

As the focus changes to Sir John Jackson Cup play, league play will be put on hold for at least one week, and potentially longer pending results of the 1st round games.

We have put in an order for some sun and a little rain so to get this white stuff out of here in quick, classic, Victorian fashion!

This is a full Sir John Jackson Cup weekend, with a majority of teams from the top two divisions participating in a single loss tournament eliminating format. The VISL’s most prestigious cup has been competed for since the 1914/1915 season, with this year’s final played on Saturday March 26th at Starlight Stadium.

The gorgeous sterling silver trophy was donated by the John Jackson Construction Company when they were here putting together Ogden Point. The company had a team in the VISL, winning the top flight divisional trophy (Garrison Cup) on a couple occasions while they were here, but the “Jacksons” were never able to win the Jackson Cup.

The Saanich Thistles won the first ever competition in 1915. Victoria West (the VISL’s longest standing team) has had the most wins; hoisting the trophy 22 times, the last time being in 1989. Gorge FC have taken home the trophy 15 times, including a record six consecutive times from 2005-2010. Nanaimo United are the defending champions and have drank from the cup on four occasions. The Cup has not been awarded in only 2 years: 1917, and 2021. We are confident that COVID will not have their name engraved on the trophy in back to back years!

Here is the top half of the draw, and the path to the Final after a couple play-in round games are in the books (the numbers in brackets signify the division of the team).

Friday will see things getting started with Gorge (Division 1) hosting Nanaimo (Division 2). This should be a competitive match as the Nanaimo team is near the top of D2. Advantage to the hosts, as they are the higher team, but not a walk in the park type game.

Friday also sees top seeded Lakehill (D1) host last place team in Division 1 Westcastle. This is the prime example of David vs Goliath – a divine intervention might be needed to see an upset there. Stranger things have happened.

Saturday sees Lakehill (D2) host Nanaimo (D1). A tasty matchup in itself as Lakehill are the top team in D2 but Nanaimo are the 2nd top team in D1. Look for Nanaimo to show why Division 1 is that much tougher than Division 2.

The top half finishes off on Sunday with JDF Hellas (D2) hosting Powell River (D1). Powell River has looked much better the past month, so if they travel with a full squad, it will be a tough match for JDF. The D2 Hellas are a passionate bunch, and they will look to provide the tournament with (possibly) its first upset!

The bottom half of the draw looks like this:

Friday gets going with Cowichan (D1) hosting Gorge (D2). Both teams, while in separate divisions, have had much of the same issues this year – putting a consistent game plan together. When both teams are on, they look great. When they are not working together – they look like they don’t belong. Look for Cowichan to have some home pride and teach the Division 2 lads a little something.

Friday also has Bays Utd (D1) hosting Prospect Lake (D2) at Oak Bay High. Prospect will be in tough with the men from Oak Bay, but this match will also depend on personnel. It will be a jump up for the D2 boys, but they have matched up well against Bays before.

Saturday sees a good match up at Finlayson as Vic West (D1) host Juan de Fuca Allflows (D1). Advantage Vic West, but this could be a coming out game for the Langford based team. It will take a solid effort, but an upset is not out of the question here.

The bottom half wraps up Saturday at Vanier Turf as Comox (D1) hosts Campbell River (D2). On paper, this should be an easier win for the Div 1 squad, but there is a bit more to it. Both teams are very familiar with each other, and there will be a lot of pride and bragging rights on the line. Look again for the Div 1 lads to shows the Div 2’s who dominates who.

You can find all the latest results, standings, and fixtures across all of the divisions at VISL.org.

Thanks for supporting local grassroots soccer, and people in your community.

Authored by: Vince Greco

VISL Executive Director

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