Highlanders to host Whitecaps U-23 in first ever home playoff match following 2-1 win over Sounders
(Photo credit: Peter Oshkai/APShutter.com)
Victoria Highlanders FC wrapped up the 2014 Premier Development League season with a nail biting 2-1 victory that featured a Sounders own-goal with just seconds remaining in the match. Victoria’s Cam Hundal opened scoring in the game, while Sounders Luis Esteves posted a goal for the home squad.
After being denied on an initial chance in the 28th minute by Sounders ‘keeper Jefferson Caldwell, Hundal converted for Victoria in the 32nd minute of play, slotting home his third goal in three games with a perfectly placed shot from the top of the 18-yard box, his fifth goal of the season.
Sounders U-23 equalized early in the second half off of a goal from Estevez, who slotted a ball past Mitrou to level the score at 1-1. It was also the fifth goal of the season for the Sounders forward.
Both sides exchanged chances following the Sounders equalizer, as a Hundal-fed ball to teammate Carlo Basso was directed just wide of the goal, while a free kick opportunity at the other end of the pitch forced Mitrou to make a diving save to keep the score on level terms. Additional Highlanders chances included a Blair Sturrock shot off the crossbar, as well as a free kick and set piece failed to produce a goal for Victoria.
Looking to put his side up a goal late, highly touted Sounders prospect Jordan Morris found himself behind the Highlanders defence, but was unable to break the deadlock as he was caught from behind. Heading the other way, a late header from Victoria’s Hundal on net forced Caldwell to make yet another great save as the game entered stoppage time with both sides level at 1-1.
Needing a victory to secure home field advantage in their upcoming play-in match against Whitecaps U-23, Victoria pushed numbers forward, with a low cross from Hundal into the box in the dying seconds of the game deflecting off of fullback Austin Dunker to give Victoria the late 2-1 advantage.
Sounders were unable to respond in the moments following the game, as Victoria captured the victory, their eighth of the season.
“If we don’t have the mentality to keep going we don’t score that goal,” explained Highlanders head coach Steve Simonson on his squad’s final push into the attacking zone. “That’s been our motto all year, we’re going to push to the bitter end and try to win every game and go for it.”
The Highlanders finish the season tied with the ‘Caps with 27 points. Victoria holds the tiebreaker in head-to-head matches this season after posting 3-2 and 5-4 victories. The tiebreaker moves the Highlanders into second place in the Northwest Division, meaning they will now host their first ever PDL playoff match at home on Wednesday July 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Royal Athletic Park.
Tickets will go on sale Monday, July 14 at www.selectyourtickets.com. For more information on this week’s upcoming playoff match and Glasgow Rangers International Friendly, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca.
Victoria – Cam Hundal 23’
SFC – Luis Esteves 47’ (Mo Dumbuya)
Victoria – Austin Dunker 90+ (OWN GOAL)
Sounders FC U-23 – Jeff Caldwell, Austin Dunker, Steve Mohn, Mark Lee, Chase Hanson, Michael Bajza (Troy Peterson 58’), Jordan Schweitzer, Joseph Giertsen (Esteban Potenciano-Reyes 58’), Jordan Morris, Mo Dumbuya (Zeb Taulieb 58’), Luis Esteves (Derek Johnson 83’)
Substitutes Not Used: Jake Feener, Balin Larson, Ian Hines-Ike
TOTAL SHOTS: 7; FOULS: 9; OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 8.
Victoria Highlanders – Elliot Mitrou, Andrew Ravenhill, Tyler Hughes, Gavin Barrett, Kevin Brown (Jordan Degraaf 78’), Alex Rowley, Tarnvir Bhandal (Ian Greedy 87’), Cam Hundal, Cam Stokes, Carlo Basso, Blair Sturrock
Substitutes Not Used: Brandon Watson, Adam Ravenhill, Riley O’Neill
TOTAL SHOTS: 16; FOULS: 4; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 0.
Victoria – Elliot Mitrou 57’ (caution)
SFC – Austin Dunker 67’ (caution)
Referee: Scott Conner
Referee’s Assistants: Joshua Haimes, Tony Johnson
Time of Game: 3:30 p.m. PST
Weather: 82 degrees, cloudy.