James Nielsen, Highlanders Communications
July 7, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Highlanders FC headed to Sumner, Washington to face Sounders U-23 at Sunset Stadium Sunday afternoon, hoping to clinch first place in the Northwest Division with an outright win.
The Highlanders grinded through 90-minutes of hard-played soccer, fighting back from a one-goal deficit to earn their second draw of the weekend against a Sounders team that was fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
The opening five-minutes of play saw both teams gain possession. Brett Levis was taken down at the five-minute mark by Mauricio Deleon, but it was Josh Phillips who received a yellow card in the ensuing scuffle that followed. Following the card Sounders U-23 held a majority of the possession, getting a hard shot on goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou at the seven-minute mark that he was able to get a hand on. In the 14th minute, Mitrou got in front of another shot from inside the 18-yard box.
At 17-minutes, Murphy Campbell received a cross pass that was headed just over top of the crossbar. The Sounders continued to get shots on Mitrou, firing nine shots in the opening 25-minutes including a Campbell shot that rang off the right post before finding it’s way to the goalkeepers arms.
The Sounders would find the back of the net in the 29th minute, with Mauricio Deleon converting a free kick to put his team up 1-0. Following the goal the possession evened out between both sides, with the Highlanders getting their first corner opportunity at the 40-minute mark. Levis would end the half on a positive note for the Highlanders, breaking up the left wing past several defenders before firing a shot wide right. Shots in the first 45 favoured Seattle 10-3.
The Highlanders opened up the second half with possession, with Wes Barrett, making a cross-pass to Cam Stokes inside the 15-yard mark that failed to connect.
The Highlanders continued to press in the second half. At 68-minutes, Highlanders Brett Levis broke up the right wing, getting the ball to Gavin Barrett inside the six-yard box that was then fired into the back of the net to even the match with 30-minutes remaining.
The Highlanders seemed to find their legs following the goal, creating several opportunities in front of the Sounders net. The Highlanders would receive seven headers in the half, including a sequence where Wes Barrett would fire three in a row but fail to connect.
The Highlanders had a great opportunity at 88-minutes, when a Gavin Barrett header was stopped by Edwards after Tyler Hughes shot a free kick from 30-yards out. The Highlanders would be unable to find a goal to win the match, despite an inspired second half of play, earning their second draw of the weekend after coming back from a goal deficit.
The Highlanders close out their regular season next weekend at Royal Athletic Park, with two points needed to clinch the Northwest Division. The match takes place at 7:30pm, Saturday the 13th. For more information please visit www.victoriahighlandersfc.com