Ryan McQuillan, Highlanders Communications
July 1, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Peninsula Co-op Highlanders had a successful two-game weekend, winning both games and taking a firm grasp of second place in the Pacific Coast Soccer League standings. The Highlanders sport a seven game win-streak and have outscored opponents 32-6 during that stretch.
Now with a record of 8-1-2 and 26 points, the Highlanders sit 10 points behind the league-leading Vancouver Whitecaps (12-2-0) and have three games in hand. Victoria hosted the Whitecaps this weekend and then traveled to Vancouver to face TSS Academy (3-7-1).
Victoria hosed the Whitecaps Saturday afternoon in what was most likely their most highly anticipated match of the regular season. Even without star Summer Clarke, the Whitecaps have a potent offense and sound defence. The Highlanders continued their hot play right from the opening whistle. Sticking to their system of short, simple passes they managed to immediately put pressure on the visiting squad. In the 11′ minute they were able to capitalize. Katie Kraeutner sent a corner into the box and Liz Hansen blasted a shot on net. It looked as though Whitecaps’ keeper Julia McDonald made the save but referees confirmed that the ball crossed the goal line; Highlanders up 1-0. Highlanders’ goal keeper Samantha Behm robbed Whitecaps’ striker Jasmin Dhanda fifteen minutes later on a breakaway by throwing herself in front of the shot. Besides that one chance, the first half belonged to the Highlanders. Hansen put an exclamation mark on the half by finishing off a pass by Kraeutner after Elise Wyatt broke up the defense with a great attack.
The momentum carried through to the second half. Hansen secured her hat trick in the 55′ minute by scoring again off a pass from Jackie Harrison. Vancouver was able to show why it’s first place in the standings by turning around and putting the Highlanders on their heels. Simrin Dhaliwal scored in the 60′ minute. Vancouver kept putting pressure on but Behm was able to make some miraculous saves to maintain a two goal lead until the 84′ minute when she hesitated to run to a ball and Jasmin Dhanda put it away to cut the lead in half. Victoria was able to survive the late surge and give Vancouver its second defeat on the season. Liz Hansen scored three goals on a team that had only given up 10 goals in its previous 13 games.
“Fantastic showing by our team,” said Head Coach Dave Dew.
On Sunday the team traveled to Vancouver to play TSS Academy. In their previous meeting at Royal Athletic Park the Highlanders walked away with a 6-1 win. Sunday’s match was much closer. The beginning of the match resembled the last meeting. Off of Victoria’s first corner kick in the 10′ minute, Katie Kraeutner and Mariel Solsberg worked off a set play and Kraeutner crossed the ball to Jackie Harrison who played a nifty backheel to Liz Hansen. Hansen was able to bury it to put Victoria up by one. Three minutes later Harrison rifled a shot into the back of the net. TSS attacked in the 24′ minute and was able to narrow the lead to one off a goal by Alyssa Graeme. TSS was able to fend off Victoria’s attack at the beginning of the second half and then even the score in the 79′ minute when Devon Kollymer scored. The Highlanders answered just one minute later when Liz Hansen drove a cross in front of the opponent’s net that was finished off by Shannon Elder’s diving header. That goal turned out to be the game winner.
Said Coach Dew, “We knew the TSS team were going to be well organized and prepared to fight, and with us having played such an intense game yesterday it was a difficult situation for us. The heat of the two days took its toll and having to kick-off again 20 hours after completing the game yesterday was tough. But the players answered the call and came out with a gutsy effort and it was a great goal by Elder to win the game. I think she is still picking turf bits out of her teeth!”
A successful weekend for the Highlanders has all but mathematically clinched them a playoff spot. Their next game is Saturday, July 6th, when the host Coquitlam Metro-Ford FC at Tyndall Turf.