Whitecaps U-23 outlast Highlanders

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Story and Photos by David Bukach (ISN)

May 31, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – It may have been a sunny evening for PDL soccer on Friday night, but it was raining goals as the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 defeated the Highlanders 5-3. The loss was the first for the Highlanders in league play, and leaves them a point up on the Portland Timbers with the timbers holding two games in hand.

It was a dream start for the Highlanders, jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes with goals by Jordie Hughes and Brett Levis. Levis returned to the scoresheet with a fine individual effort after a turnover on the left wing, while Hughes scored his second in goal in two games with a clinical finish from the right.

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Highlanders midfielder Rile O’Neill eludes a tackle from Whitecaps U-23 midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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Highlanders defender Ryan Ashlee heads a ball away from Whitecaps U-23 forward Niall Cousens during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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Highlanders forward Brett Levis attempts to knock the ball away from Whitecaps U-23 defender Colten O’Neill during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

The Whitecaps began to control the match soon after, and Derek Bassi scored after 26 minutes, placing a volley just out of reach of Highlanders keeper Elliot Mitrou and into the top corner. Mitrou made a fine save on a penalty soon after in the 28th minute, and a second penalty could have been awarded on a tackle against midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh only a minute later. The Whitecaps kept coming, and Niall Cousens headed in the tying goal in the 39th minute to send the game level after the first half.

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Whitecaps U-23 midfielder Harpreet Lakhan celebrates a goal during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN) 

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Highlanders midfielder Riley O’Neill rushes past Whitecaps U-23 midfielder Niall Cousens during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park  – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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Highlanders midfielder Riley O’Neill watches as Whitecaps U-23 midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh heads the ball during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

The second half picked up where things left off for the Whitecaps, scoring in the first minute after the break on a goal by Aminu Abdaliha. The Highlanders rallied on a second goal by Hughes in the 56th minute, but the lead would not last long as the Whitecaps tied on a goal by Dosanjh after a poorly defended throw-in less than two minutes later. The teams exchanged chances through the last 30 minutes, but Niall Cousens scored for the Whitecaps in the 86th minute to secure the victory, sending the coveted Juan de Fuca plate to the ‘Caps this time round.

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Whitecaps U-23 forward Niall Cousens prepares to pass the ball as Highlanders defender Ryan Ashlee gives chase during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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Whitecaps U-23 midfielder Harpreet Lakhan and Highlander defender Matt Polster struggle for the ball during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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Whitecaps U-23 defender Ethen Sampson attempts to dribble past Highlander forward Craig Gorman during the PDL league match between the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 at Royal Athletic Park – Photo by David Bukach (ISN)

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