Highlanders Playoff Hopes Vanish After tie with Portland Timbers

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Story by Jai Rakic, Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN

Victoria, BC (ISN) The Victoria Highlanders men hosted the 3rd place Portland Timbers at Royal Athletic Park on Saturday night, with neither side managing to find a winning goal, as the match ended in 1-1 draw.

With only a few games remaining in the regular season, the Highlanders really needed to win all of their remaining games to be in contention for a playoff position. After a convincing 3-0 win over the reigning USL champions Kitsap last weekend, the Highlanders were looking to continue their great form at home against the Portland Timbers.
 

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The Highlanders Ash Burbeary (right), plays the ball away from Portland defender Chris Harms (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Highlanders were strong out of the gate and found themselves in front after only five minutes. Midfielder Craig Gorman scored a spectacular volley from just outside the box, sending the ball flying past the Portland keeper Spencer Richey and into the back of the net.
 

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The Highlander’s Craig Gorman (#11 left) is mobbed by his teammates after a beautiful opening goal (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Gorman’s goal erupted the thousand plus fans at Royal Athletic Park and only a few minutes later it looked like Gorman was going to score again. Ash Burbeary’s cross found Gorman all alone at the far post, who volleyed the ball just over the bar.
 

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Portland’s Evyn Hewitt (left) and the Highlanders Jared Stephens (right) battle hard for a head ball Saturday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

After a slow start Portland finally found their feet and levelled the score in the 23rd minute, after being awarded a free-kick. Highlander’s goalkeeper Elliott Mitrou batted away Steven Evans attempt from the free-kick, only to have Portland Striker Mark Sherrod score off the rebound. The teams were tied 1-1 going into the break.
 

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Highlander goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou pulls the ball down out of trouble in first half action Saturday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The second half didn’t produce any goals, with Portland dominating both ball and field possession. The Highlanders pushed hard towards the dying moments of the game but were unable to find a goal. The final whistle sounded with the scores still tied 1-1.
 

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The Highlanders Sam Prette (right) tries to break free from Portland defender Nick Hamer (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

With only three games remaining in the regular season and sitting 9 points away from a playoff position, The Highlanders stand no real chance of making the finals. Even being out of contention for a playoff position, the Highlanders will be determined to end their year on a high note and continue their impressive from that has come just a little too late in the season.
 

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Portland’s Clark Phillips (left) and the Highlanders Kevan Brown (right) battle for the ball late in the game Saturday (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

 

The Portland tie moves the Timbers into a two-way tie for first place with the Kitsap Pumas in the Northwest Division. The Pumas, as well as the Washington Crossfire and Seattle Sounders play on Sunday.

The Victoria Highlanders take on Fraser Valley on Monday, then play their last home game of the season against the North Sound Seawolves on July 7th.
 

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The Highlanders Sasa Plavsic (right) attempts a tackle on Portland’s Andrew Ribeiro in Saturday’s action (Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

FOR A FULL SELECTION OF IMAGES FROM TODAYS GAME, PLEASE VISIT CHRISTIAN J. STEWART’S GALLERY HERE!

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