Highlanders FC concluded their season this past Sunday at Royal Athletic Park with a scoreless draw versus Mid Isle Mariners, going undefeated at Royal Athletic Park, and netting only one defeat in sixteen games total. With both teams already booked into the Pacific Coast Soccer League’s playoffs, the 0-0 tie determined final season standings with the Mariners holding onto second place on 33 points and the Highlanders in third with 31 points.
Both teams came out playing a possession style game with play building up purposely to move the ball through mid field players going forward in attacks. Defenders from both sides were able to thwart attacks and transition possession quickly in the opposite direction. Mariners almost took the lead on 23 minutes off an attacking corner. The service was not cleared and they struck the cross bar. Highlanders mustered more of an attack in the final 20 minutes of the half, with the closest scoring opportunity being a Michael Baart one-timed volley sent inches over the goal frame.
Second half saw a motivated Highlanders squad make wave after wave of attack in the Mariner defensive third of the field. A clever set play on 55 minutes sent striker Craig Gorman clear on Mariner keeper, Trevor White. Gorman’s attempt flew over White and directly square off the cross bar. Gorman got another free look at the 61st minute only to see his strike fly just beyond the top corner on his far post effort. Highlanders kept pushing for the winner. Parm Johal got a look in added time that got the three hundred plus spectators off their feet, but it would just miss and the game concluded scoreless.
Head Coach and Co-Owner, David Dew was very pleased with the support and proud of his team being undefeated at home. “Though scoring has been an issue this year, I believe we played an entertaining brand of soccer and continued to make attacking a priority while simplifying our defending”, he reflected. “Going into the playoffs, we are quietly confident in knowing we have only lost one game this season. We are definitely looking forward to this weekend as it has been six years since a Victoria team has made the Pacific Coast Soccer League post season”.
The four team Challenge Cup playoff is hosted this year by Vancouver United FC who also took the regular season crown. They will face Khalsa Sporting Club in the first semi final this Saturday. Highlanders face their Island rivals, Mid Isle Mariners in the second semi-final, a 3:30pm kick off at Trillium Park. Championship final will be played Sunday, July 26th, a 1pm kick-off at Trillium Park.
Highlanders are gauging support for 2016 and are encouraging supporters to purchase season tickets for next season with ‘Early Bird’ rates available for a limited time; $75 adult grandstand section; $52.50 for adult supporters section; and $52.50 for youth ages 16 and under. Amounts include taxes and fees. Season tickets available online at Select Your Tickets.