Victoria Highlanders snap Powell River Villa’s home winning streak

by Mark deFrias

For the first time since September 24, 2017, Powell River Villa SC lost a home game.

Villa’s Vancouver Island Soccer League winning streak at Timberlane Park was snapped on Saturday, January 17.

In a match between the two top teams in the division, Villa fell 3-2 to Victoria Highlanders U18's. The loss dropped Powell River from sole possession of first place atop Division 2, a position the team has held alone for the entire season, into a tie for first with the Highlanders, each with 28 points.

Villa went into halftime ahead 2-1, but it all fell apart in the second half.  

“A team like that, you can't take your foot off the gas because they have a lot of ability, speed and fitness,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “We seemed like we ran out of gas halfway through the second half. That was giving them more life.”

Villa was on the scoreboard in the first half courtesy of a Highlanders own-goal, then Caleb Vallance scored his second of the season at the 12-minute mark on a beautiful assist from Jake Kenmuir.

“It was a nice play from the whole team,” said Vallance. “It was a good ball into Jake’s feet; he just did a nice little flick through for me and then from there it was actually pretty easy for me to slot it home.”

McDonough said Vallance was Villa’s best player and the best player on the pitch for both teams. Vallance said his play is just starting to come together and agreed it was his best game so far.

“I'm just starting to feel more comfortable out there, and the style of play, I'm getting more used to it,” said Vallance. “In the last game I showed more of what I can do, and I still think I can show a lot more in upcoming games.”

Vallance has had to adjust to the men’s game from U16 with the  Vancouver Island Wave, the team he plays for in the BC Premier League. He is playing against bigger opposition and faces tougher tackles in the VISL.

“You don't want to get caught with the ball or caught not thinking or just have a stupid injury with guys who will go in hard, but as you get more comfortable and used to it, it gets easier to play and you start doing things naturally and not thinking about it too much,” said Vallance. “In the last game I just went out there and played, didn't think so much about what I was doing and just had fun.”

Vallance created other chances for Villa and McDonough thought his team deserved at least a tie but could not find the finishing touch in the second half.

“We played really well in the first half,” said McDonough. “In the second half we struggled a little bit and they came on at the end. We were unlucky not to get a third goal.”

Three points separate the top four teams in the division. Four games remain for Villa, with the next two on the road before returning to Timberlane Park for the last home game of the Division 2 season on February 9.

Villa will look to get back to the win column against ninth place Vic West in Victoria on Saturday, January 26.

McDonough will not have Vallance in his lineup. He will be in Vancouver to train with U17 Whitecaps residency program and play in a game for them on Saturday.

“I was looking at the ferry schedule to see if I could get over for that Villa game,” said Vallance, “but there's no way I could make it in time.”