With Photos by Erich Eichhorn – ISN
Victoria (ISN) – The Victoria Highlanders held their home openers this past weekend with the men earning a pair of 1-1 draws against the Seattle Sounders U23 Saturday and Vancover Whitecaps U23 Sunday and the women earning a stunning 3-2 upset of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday.
Saturday – VICTORIA 1 SEATTLE 1
In Saturday’s action in front of just over 1,200 spectators, the Highlanders outplayed the visitors and if not for the solid goalkeeping of Seattle’s Doug Herrick, could have won handily.
Highlanders’ Liam Davis looks for a darting midfielder teammate to push the ball on net – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
In the first half, the Highlander’s domination paid off with a goal in the 34th minute by Sasa Plavsic, who converted a nice set-up from former UVic Vike Craig Gorman. The Sounders would reply just 3 minutes into the second half on a goal by Fernando Monge.
International player Ashley Burbeary attempts to keep the ball away from the flying feet of the Sounders attacker – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Highlanders continued to take the play to the Sounders, but failed to net the winner, notably late in the game when Tom Mallette missed a glorous chance and then in injury time when Gordie Hughes sailed one just over the bar.
Jordan Hughes heads this ball away from the Sounders defenders. Highlanders would control much of the play in the first half – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Sunday – VANCOUVER 1 VICTORIA 1
With Files From Mike Lazar, Vancouver Whitecaps
Following their 2-1 home defeat to Cascadia rivals Sounders FC U-23 on Friday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 fought hard to earn a 1-1 draw in their first road match of the season away to Victoria Highlanders FC in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL). In the end, the ‘Caps shared the spoils, and the points towards the supporters-driven Juan De Fuca Plate competition against their British Columbia rivals.
Victoria entered the match a day after their opening PDL clash with Sounders FC U-23 on the same field, which also ended in a 1-1 draw. Vancouver opted for creativity in attack with a 4-3-3 lineup much like the one against the Sounders on Friday. Fresh off being named PDL Player of the Week, Carlos Marquez made his second start to the season alongside MLS roster strikers Long Tan, and Caleb Clarke.
Sasa Plavsic strikes the ball well, crossing in front of the Sounders goal in Saturday’s match with Seattle – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The match quickly began to illustrate the history between the two sides, as many battles for possession would add to the foul count, Victoria finding themselves on the end of 12, and four for Vancouver after the first half. Despite the gritty defensive display from the Highlanders, it was Vancouver who chose their shot wisely, as the combined creativity of Gagan Dosanjh and Marquez was crucial in setting up Tan for the opening goal on the 40-minute mark to make it 1-0 for the ‘Caps.
Victoria had other ideas however, as a quick response to the goal was delivered by midfielder Craig Gorman at the very end of the first half, finding his third ever goal for Victoria after the ‘Caps were caught off guard from a throw-in.
Sasa Plavsic would score the Highlanders first goal of the 2012 season. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The second half kicked off with many threatening chances for the Whitecaps, who kept a high tempo in possession and were keen to breakdown the Highlanders defence once again. Victoria proved to be just as deadly, with repeated counter attacking prowess that was a handful for Vancouver centre backs Ben McKendry and James Farenhorst, who continued to keep their side within contention.
Defensive fielder Tyler Hughes keeps the body between the ball and Sounders Michael Uyehara in Saturday’s action – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
In the end, it appeared that a stalemate was inevitable, as both sides would continue to block out any go-ahead goal, thus setting the stage for more close affairs within the strong Northwest Division.
After the match, head coach Craig Dalrymple acknowledged the solid effort of his side. “It was a hard fought game for sure. Victoria are committed to their approach, very workman like and we had to match that work ethic if we were to get the result. We talked about defending from set pieces and we were unfortunate to concede from the throw-in, but we’re continuing to show more wit in our attack, we just lacked that midas touch today.”
Highlanders owner Alex Campbell Jr. (right) presented Simon Keith with a Highlanders jersey and made him an honorary member of the Highlanders Club Saturday night. Keith, at one time showed a promising football career had it cut short by a heart condition many years ago only to still succeed later in life. – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Sunday – VICTORIA 3 VANCOUVER 2
With Files From Joshua Nanavaty, Vancouver Whitecaps
The Peninsula Co-op Women’s W League team opened the 2012 season with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The ‘Caps traded chances early with Highlanders FC, as goalkeeper Justine Bernier and the ‘Caps back four weathered an early storm of chances from the home side, who looked to put on a show for the fans in their home opener. The Blue and White then scored the first goal of the match as a Mele French corner kick was knocked down by Mary Kate McLaughlin and the loose ball found the boot of Canadian Olympic hopeful Chelsea Buckland. The Delta, BC, native then fired a shot past Victoria goalkeeper Stephanie Parker for a 1-0 lead.
“Chelsea is a great finisher,” noted Jesse Symons, Whitecaps FC women’s head coach. “Chelsea brought a calmness to our team today and you can see why she plays at the highest levels.”
However, after Buckland scored Victoria would get a break as ’Caps defender Brittany Galindo was shown a red card for a tackle in the box on 38 minutes. This gave the home side a penalty kick and brought the ‘Caps down to 10 players for the rest of the match. Liz Hansen buried the spot kick to make it even going into halftime, 1-1.
Symons’ squad knew they were going to be in tough against a stingy Victoria team, especially down to 10 players. With the advantage, Victoria took a 2-1 lead off a corner kick which the ‘Caps initially cleared only to see the ball quickly played back into the box by Janelle Smith before Lindsey Hoetzel eventually scored on 58 minutes. The Highlanders would then put their final tally on the board as Hoetzel rifled a shot into the top left corner past an outstretched Bernier on 63 minutes.
Buckland tried to help get the ‘Caps back in it, as she spun and fed a streaking Janine Frazao. In on goal, the UBC Thunderbirds striker made no mistake, finishing into the back of the net to get the ‘Caps to within one with a little over 20 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the ‘Caps that was as close as they would come, as they dropped their season opener and suffered a first ever loss to the Highlanders.
Co-Op Women Reserves
Sunday KAMLOOPS 2 VICTORIA 1
After the 3-1 win Saturday, the team was off to Kamloops where they faced the Kamloops Heat in very warm temperatures at Hillside Stadium.
The Kamloops Heat played a very fast and physical game and although the reserves took the early lead they could not hold off the Kamloops Heat. Kamloops scored the next two goals and won the game 2-1.
Despite the loss, the Peninsula Co-op Reserves have maintained first place in the Pacific Coast Soccer League early in thier season. Sarah Lefebvre is currently tied for the goals scoring lead with three goals in three games.
For more on standings and schedules visit the Pacific Coast Soccer League site at www.pcsl.org