RENO, NEVADA – It was a perfect night for soccer in Nevada as Reno 1868 FC hosted Whitecaps FC 2 in the second match for both sides this young USL season. The ‘Caps and 1868 FC both suffered opening night losses and were looking to get their first wins of the year. In the end, a hard fought battle ended in a 1-1 draw.
The home side opened the scoring four minutes into the match on a header by centre back Brenton Griffiths, who earned himself the distinction of scoring the first ever goal in Reno 1868 FC franchise history. The play developed off a corner kick by Junior Burgos as Griffiths was able to leap above the WFC2 defence, heading the ball into the back of the net.
Minutes later the ‘Caps equaled the score courtesy of Thomas Sanner. Ben McKendry swung in a corner that was initially headed off the crossbar by Sanner, resulting in frantic play around the six-yard box. Cole Seiler then headed it back towards Sanner to nod it in for the ‘Caps to tie the match at one goal apiece.
WFC2 kept the pressure on in the 31st minute when McKendry had a great look on goal, redirecting a shot from outside the box, but 1868 FC goalkeeper Matt Bersano made an incredible reaction save to keep the match tied up at 1-1. The ‘Caps kept the pressure on as Sanner was sent in alone on a partial break before being robbed by Bersano in the 41st minute.
In the second half both teams exchanged chances. WFC2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey made a point blank save on Matt Lagrassa in the 60th minute. Again, it was a cross swung in the box off a corner by Burgos finding Lagrassa’s foot on the volley. A minute later the ‘Caps thought they had the go-ahead goal when McKendry took a strike from just outside the 18-yard box, catching the inside of the post and coming out the other side. In disbelief, McKendry put his hands on his head looking skyward.
Later in the 67th minute, former WFC2 player Mackenzie Pridham thought he had nudged his team in-front, sliding one past Richey before the offside flag was raised. Similarly, in the 88th minute Thomas Gardner thought he had his first ever WFC2 goal, but again the goal was called back on an offside.
The draw earns Whitecaps FC 2 their first point of the season. The squad will head home to face Seattle Sounders FC 2 in their home opener at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley next Saturday, April 8. WFC2 play six home matches at McLeod this upcoming season. The first of their 10-match home schedule at UBC Thunderbird Stadium is on Saturday, April 22 versus San Antonio FC.