With a number of its players nursing injuries, the cancellation of Powell River Villa soccer club’s November 19 home game against Prospect Lake due to wet field conditions gave the aching team time to heal before it returns to Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 3A play.
“This week was kind of a blessing,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “We can definitely use the recovery time.”
Along with Kye Taylor, who has been out of the lineup since sustaining his second concussion of the season on October 22, one of McDonough’s most banged-up players is centre-midfielder Kurtis Dennison.
“I won't be playing for a little while because I'm injured,” said Dennison. “They told me I have a partially torn medial collateral ligament. I played our last game against Gorge. It was a big game, but I'm going to take a couple of weeks off.”
On top of his latest injury, Dennison said he is not fully recovered from a cracked rib he suffered in the first game of the 2016/2017 season.
Dennison has three of the 32 goals Villa has scored in the first 10 games of the current season. He also came close to scoring twice in the final minutes of the game against Gorge that Villa lost 1-0.
The difference in Villa’s success in Division 3A, as opposed to the team’s last-place Division 2 finish in 2016/2017, cannot all be attributed to playing in a lower division, according to Dennison.
“It's still very competitive,” he said. “I'm not sure why we're doing so good. We've bonded together as a team better this year.”
Dennison added that another big change is new players, scoring more goals, having fun and winning. It all comes from the coach and McDonough’s approach, according to Dennison.
“He’s relying on key players to do certain parts and filling in around that,” said Dennison. “That's the system he's going with.”
McDonough’s system revolves around a commitment to a youth movement on the team.
The coach said he wants to play to the strengths of younger players and 21-year-old Dennison is one of them.
“A lot of play goes through him,” said McDonough. “He's very good at defending. He's a really good ball winner, gets into tackles fearlessly and is an aggressive player, which is what you want in there to break up the other team's attack.”
Dennison said he has changed his game under the new system and it is working. He did not put up any points last season, but scoring goals was not his role, he said.
“Last year I was more of a grunt player trying to hold the line down,” said Dennison. “I have people around me now who can help me out, Jake Kenmuir being one of them.”
Kenmuir leads Villa with eight goals, a total that puts him among the league’s top 10 in scoring.
Villa’s next game takes place on the road at Cowichan Red Arrow on Sunday, November 26.