Highlanders playoff bound after 3-1 victory over Gunners

(Photo credit: APShutter.com)

Victoria Highlanders FC came up big when they had to, collecting the three points they needed to qualify for this season’s Premier Development League playoffs with a 3-1 win over Puget Sound Gunners, July 11 at Issaquah High School. Victoria struck twice in the second half of play to secure the win and ensure a post-season berth.

Highlanders Blair Sturrock and Cam Hundal posted goals in the game, while the third was credited as a Puget Sound own goal.


Puget Sound had their opportunities to go up a goal early, with forward Esteban Ochoa’s speed causing problems for the Highlanders. The Gunners played low pressure, opting to sit in and hit Victoria on the break. The style was problematic early for the Victoria squad, who required a bit of time to find their rhythm. Filling in at centre back for teammate Ryan Ashlee, defender Gavin Barrett adjusted well to his new role, playing alongside Victoria captain Tyler Hughes for the first time in his career.

The Highlanders opened the scoring, with Sturrock notching his team-leading sixth goal of the season off a Hughes-delivered free kick. It was the second goal in as many games for the Scotland native, who has shown Jedi-like reflexes around the net this season.

Justin Amundsen tied it up for the home side in the 36th minute, finishing a Justice Deurksen corner kick to send both squads knotted in a 1-1 score heading into the second half.

Hundal also added to his goal total on the season, notching his fourth goal of the year after dribbling into the attacking zone, cutting through the back four and firing a left-footer into the back of the net to give Victoria a 2-1 lead. The game was put away late after a Gunners own goal gave the Highlanders a 3-1 lead late in the second half of play.

The victory puts the Highlanders in third place overall in the PDL’s Northwest Division. A win against Sounders U-23 on Sunday afternoon would put Victoria into a tie with Whitecaps U-23, with Victoria holding the tiebreaker in head-to-head matches. Should Victoria post a victory in their final game, they would host a play-in next week against the Whitecaps. Kitsap’s Friday night victory over Washington Crossfire locked up first-place in the Northwest Division title for the 2011 PDL Champions.

Kick-off for the Highlanders’ regular season match is set for Sunday, July 13 at 3:30 p.m. For more information, please visitwww.highlandersfc.ca.