Highlanders’ men’s reserves prevail in thrilling shootout

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Highlanders’ men’s reserves prevail in thrilling shootout

(Photo credit: Highlanders’ Communications)

PENTICTON – Victoria Highlanders FC’s men’s reserves opened their 2014 Pacific Coast Soccer League Challenge Cup with a shootout Semi-Final victory 1-1 (4-2 penalties) over Penticton Pinnacles on Saturday, July 26. The men will go on to face Mid Isle Highlanders in the Challenge Cup Final on Sunday, July 27 at 11:00 a.m.

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Victoria’s lone goal of the game came off the foot of Justin Atwal. The Highlanders scored on all four of their shots in the penalty shootout, while goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou turned aside two Penticton shots to secure the win.

“Sometimes you can’t win the way you want to and sometimes you fight yourself as well as your performance,” commented Highlanders’ men’s reserve head coach Dave Ravenhill. “All you can do is work hard and persevere. As a team I’m happy that we pulled through to set up tomorrow’s match against Mid Isle.”

The first chance of the match was Justin Atwal’s shot from distance that was quickly grabbed by the diving ‘keeper. As the match wore on both teams started to tighten up defensively as neither squad was able to control possession of the ball through the midfield. Penticton took advantage of a Victoria miscue and a quick strike from the Pinnacles’ forward gave the home side a 1-0 lead.

The match started to get chippy in the latter stages of the opening half as Atwal and Mitrou from Victoria were booked and Penticton received a yellow of their own on a hard foul. A late Highlanders’ corner resulted in a scramble in front of the Penticton goal mouth, but the ball was cleared from danger and the Pinnacles held a 1-0 lead at the half.

The Highlanders’ came out stronger in the second half as they pushed for the equalizer. The men were rewarded for their efforts in the 60th minute when Khanna’s low corner was redirected in by Atwal at the far post to tie the game at one. Penticton came close to pulling ahead midway through the half, but was unable to beat Mitrou. The Highlanders recorded a pair of solid chances in the dying stages of the second half as Khanna and Montgomery fired shots wide. The score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes of play.

Extra-time solved nothing, so the teams headed to penalties to decide who would be moving on to Sunday’s Final. Highlights of the shootout included Highlanders’ goals from Khanna, Mitrou, Montgomery, and Walde, as well as a pair of big saves from Mitrou to record the 4-2 penalty kick win for Victoria.

The men will now face PCSL League Champion Mid Isle Highlanders on Sunday, July 27 after Mid Isle secured their berth in the final with a 1-0 win over West Vancouver FC. Kick-off for the match between Victoria and Mid Isle is set for 11:00 a.m. at Kings Park. For recaps on all this weekend’s Challenge Cup matches that include the Highlanders women’s first team and reserve squads, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca.

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