Goalkeepers come up big in entertaining draw at Thunderbird Stadium

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VANCOUVER, BC – On a wet spring Vancouver day at Thunderbird Stadium, Whitecaps FC 2 battled to a 0-0 home draw against Western Conference rivals Sacramento Republic FC.

WFC2 were looking for a bounce-back after falling to San Antonio FC last week. Sacramento, meanwhile, came into the match hungry after three straight defeats.

The Blue and White’s best chance of the first half came in the 11th minute on a David Norman Jr. corner kick. Norman curled in a cross with his left foot finding the head of Dominick Zator, who got up for the header and put the ball just over the bar. Zator was making his second professional start after debuting earlier this month against Seattle.

Later in the half, it was the road team driving play in the ‘Caps end, and if not for goalkeeper Spencer Richey standing tall Republic FC could have very well buried two or three.  In the 13th minute, it was Richey making a ten-bell save on Tyler Blackwood who was sent in alone on a beautiful through ball.  The ‘Caps first team player rushed out, made himself big, and made the sprawling save to keep the match level.  Minutes later in the 15th minute, striker Sammy Ochoa took a strike from just inside the 18-yard-box, but the Washington native tipped the shot over the bar to avoid disaster.

By far the best chance for Sacramento came when James Kiffe struck a wicked shot on the volley that looked to be headed straight for the top corner until Richey dove and kept it out once again with a highlight reel stop.

Come the second half, Ochoa had another glorious look at goal on 57 minutes, this time putting his shot just wide of the far post. He was set up on a feed from captain Danny Barrera who thread the needle between two ‘Caps defenders.

From there the tides turned offensively.

First, Norman made a great individual effort in the 62nd minute, running down the left wing before crossing in a ball right to the feet of Gloire Amanda, but the youngster couldn’t burry his first professional goal. Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton got down quickly to make the stop and keep the match level.

Then in the 71st, it looked like Amanda solved the keeper. From just outside the 18-yard-box, the 18-year-old took a low hard shot that had the home crowd ready to cheer, but just missed far post.

The last and maybe best chance for WFC2 came shortly thereafter in the 72nd when Andy Thoma found Thomas Sanner in the box with a first-class ball, but again Sacramento Keeper Newton came up big with a point blank save to preserve the draw and a clean sheet.

In the end, a match worthy of a few goals finished tied at zeros with both teams walking away with a point in the back pocket. On this day it was both goalkeepers who’s light shown through the overcast skies at Thunderbird stadium.

WFC2 will head on the road to face Swope Park Rangers next Friday, May 5 at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City. Sacramento FC continue their road trip as they head to the Lone Star State to face San Antonio FC at Toyota field next Saturday.

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