May 22 2014 ISN – VICTORIA – The Peninsula Co-op Highlanders open their 2014 Pacific Coast Soccer League season, May 25 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Simon Fraser University. The match is first of just ten games in a shortened 2014 season for the women’s Premier division. Last season, a dominant run to close out their season ended in disappointment for Victoria, as they were bounced in the semifinals in penalty kicks.
The late start to the season may benefit the Victoria-based squad, who will have a full compliment of players from which head coach Dave Dew can choose from. The extended wait to begin the season has both Dew and his squad looking forward to this weekend’s opening matches.
“It’s going to be good,” said Dew. “The team is really excited to play their first game. Having the schedule start late this year has been good for us. It’s got our players motivated and ready to play and raised competition level for places on the team, so there’s some real excitement that’s been generated for this first game.”
Among the Highlanders starting roster are returning veterans Mariel Solsberg and Liz Hansen. The two former University of Victoria Vikes will be joined by a strong contingent of current Vikes as well as several up-and-coming young players, many of who are still in the process of finishing secondary school. Additionally the Vikes will welcome three players from the NCAA ranks in Rebecca Sparkman, Lesley Chilton and Mia Gunter. All three players will provide the PCSL squad with experience at midfield.
The Vancouver Whitecaps will also be opening their 2014 season as they face Victoria. In 2013, the ‘Caps finished one point ahead of the Highlanders after Victoria went on a 11-game winning streak to close out their season. Both teams featured the top two goal scorers last season as well, with Vancouver’s Summer Clarke leading the league with 19 goals. Clarke was followed by Hansen, who ended the season with 13 tallies. In total, Victoria featured four players in the top-10 of scoring, which includes 2014 returning Highlander Sarah Douglas.
Kick-off in the May 25 match is set for 1:30 pm at Simon Fraser University; it will be the first of two meeting between the clubs this season. The women’s first team plays their first home game of the season May 31 against the Mid Isle Highlanders at Hampton Park.