Highlanders forward Jordie Hughes takes a shot on Seattle Goalie Jefferson Caldwell. (Photo: Scott Paterson ISN)
VICTORIA – With the end of the Premier Development League regular season just around the corner, Highlanders FC welcomed division rival Seattle Sounders U-23 to Royal Athletic Park on June 28. Neither side was able to capitalize on the opportunities throughout the match, finishing in a 0-0 draw in front of 1457 fans.
Highlanders Manny Gomez holds his daughter during the coin toss. (Photo: Scott Paterson ISN)
Midfielder Cam Hundal provided Victoria with their top opportunities throughout the evening, stretching the defence and forcing turnovers on several occasions, while full back Ryan Ashlee was sound on defence through ninety minutes of play. Seattle was forced to shoot from distance throughout the night and were unable to generate a goal in the first half despite holding an edge in ball possession early. Afternoon clouds cleared for the Saturday evening match as both teams got underway in the second-to-last regular season home match for Victoria, with play for the better part of the opening 20 minutes occurring at midfield.
The Highlanders made use of their time with the ball however, with several quality looks on net. Victoria striker Jordie Hughes opened the game with the first chance of the evening, receiving a one-touch pass from Manny Gomez before striking a volley just left from inside the box at 17 minutes.
Highlanders Cam Hundal splits through the sounders defenders. (Poto: Scott Paterson ISN)
Teammate Cam Hundal followed suit less than ten minutes later, finishing crisp ball movement by the Highlanders in the attacking zone with a strike from an awkward angle that went wide of the near post. Hundal ‘s speed exposed the Seattle defence at times in the first half, but the midfielder was unable to get the quality strike on net needed to give his side an advantage on the scoresheet. Seattle finished the first half with a 7-5 advantage in shots on net, with Sounders Francisco Lopez and Derek Johnson combining to produce four of those shots. Despite the advantage on the score sheet, both sides would head into the break in a scoreless draw.
Seattle Defender slides in to take the ball away from Riley O’Neil of the Highlanders (Photo: Scott Paterson ISN)
Hundal continued to show jump in the second half, dispossessing his mark of the ball near midfield before crossing to Hughes at the top of the attacking zone, but Hughes’ blast would sail just high. Another Highlanders’ chance moments later would eventually be cleared out of harms way after an unsuccessful cross from Blair Sturrock into the attacking zone.The game’s pace slowed considerably following Victoria’s early chances, with Seattle’s only threatening look on net coming off a Balin Larson header that floated into Watson’s arms.
Seattle Goalie Jefferson Caldwell makes a diving save to keep the score 0-0. (Photo: Scott Paterson ISN)
It wasn’t until the 63rd minute that Victoria got another chance of their own, as a Ravenhill cross found Greedy in close, but his header was stopped by a well-positioned Jefforson Caldwell.Victoria continued to press into latter minutes of the game, and looked to have the first goal of the game in the 86th minute, but contact between Hundal and Jefferson negated Cameron Stokes’ chip into the net. A late Seattle free kick would fail to produce anything late for the visiting squad, as both teams earned a point in a 0-0 draw.
Northwest Division rival Kitsap Puma’s Saturday night defeat moves the Highlanders within four points of the division lead with three games remaining. Victoria will host Lane United FC in the final regular season home game of the year, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. For more information, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca