Playoffs on the line as Highlanders embark on final road trip of season
VICTORIA – The third and final playoff position in the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division remains to be filled, and it is in the hands of Victoria Highlanders FC if they want to occupy that spot. Two crucial road games on Friday, July 11 and Sunday July 13 will determine who joins Whitecaps U-23 and Kitsap Pumas in the top-3 spots when PDL playoffs get underway next week.
The Highlanders are coming off a 2-0 victory at Royal Athletic Park against Lane United FC. The match saw Victoria forward Blair Sturrock notching his fifth goal, while a smartly played cross from fullback Andrew Ravenhill resulted in a Lane own goal to put the game away. In his second start in a row, Highlander Elliot Mitrou earned his first clean sheet of the season. A late altercation in the match resulted in a red card for centre back Ryan Ashlee, who will miss his first match in a Highlanders uniform since joining the squad in 2013.
First up, the Highlanders will face the struggling Puget Sound Gunners. The Washington-based squad sits in seventh place in the division table with 11 points, having posted three wins, eight losses and two draws. The Gunners sit last in goals for with eight while allowing 28 goals against. The squad’s limited scoring has spread nearly even among six players this year.
After a day off, the Highlanders will take to the pitch in their regular season finale against Sounders U-23 at Sunset Stadium near Seattle, Wash. Depending on Friday’s results, Sunday’s match could determine which side slips into the third and final position for the 2014 playoffs. The Highlanders currently hold a 27-17 advantage in goals for this season over Sounders, while both sides’ back lines have held their opponents to an identical 16 goals against. Unlike the Gunners, Sounders offence has been much more potent, with the majority of goals falling to Mohammad Dumbuya and Luis Esteves, who have notched three and four goals this season, respectively.
Three is the magic number for the Highlanders, who need a win or Sounders loss to advance to the 2014 PDL playoffs. Kick-off against the Gunners is set for 7:00 p.m. while Sundays match versus Sounders U-23 has been moved to a 3:30 p.m. kick-off to accommodate the 2014 World Cup finale. For more information, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca