highlanders 2

By Jai Rakic – ISN
Photos by Erich Eichhorn – ISN 

Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Highlanders men’s team hosted the Washington Crossfire at Royal Athletic Park on Saturday night, going down 1-0 in a game they should have won.

After the mid-week sacking of Victoria Highlanders coach, Ian Bridge, supporters were anxious to see how the team would perform under replacement coach Steve Simonson. Simonson is the Highlanders men’s reserve coach who will also be stepping up to the duty for the men’s first team, at least until the end of the season.

When the players ran out onto the field for the start of play, a greasy pitch greeted them after some light rain just before the match. The Highlanders started the game strong and only a few minutes in, Tyler Hughes almost scored from a free-kick just outside the Washington box.  

Thomas Mallette demonstrated a gritty performance, always on the ball with spirited play – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Only a few minutes later the Highlanders fell victim to the slick ball. Victoria goalkeeper, Elliott Mitrou, came off his line for a routine catch, but the ball slipped through his hands and fell to the feet of Washington’s Matthew Fisher, who easily finished the ball into the empty Highlanders net. The score was now 1-0 in favour of the visiting Washington side.

Ten minutes later Mitrou almost caused another goal after fumbling the slippery ball again from a Washington cross. Luckily for the Highlanders, a defender was there to clear the ball off the line.

Highlanders Ravenhill clears the ball away from a pressing Crossfire attacker – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Victoria were down a goal but determined to level the match and had several great opportunities leading up to half-time but failed to convert their chances into goals. The teams headed into the dressing rooms at half time with the Washington Crossfire leading 1-0.

After the break the Highlanders looked determined to find a goal, creating several opportunities to level the score, but unable to capitalise on their chances. The Highlanders best scoring opportunity came only seconds before the final whistle, when a great header almost found its way into the Washington net, only to be tipped onto the cross bar then cleared off the Crossfire line.

Highlanders #19 Jared Stephens was intrumental Saturday night in leading the downfield attack, often sprinting with the ball into the Crossfire end with defenders in chase – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Highlanders were unlucky not to come away with a tie or even a win after creating more scoring opportunities then their opposition. After this loss to Washington and their disappointing 4-2 loss to the Whitecaps last weekend, the Highlanders will need a strong finish to the regular season if they are to have any hopes of reaching the playoffs.

The Highlanders next game is next Friday when they travel to Washington to face the North Sound SeaWolves.

#20 Thomas Mallette denies the ball from a Crossfire player with some fancy footwork – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )