Photo: Gord Rufh

VICTORIA, BC – Victoria Highlanders FC (1-0-1) dropped a tightly contested match, 1-0 to Sounders U-23 (2-0-1), May 26 at Centennial Stadium after a late goal by Sounders’ Adam Jones proved to be the difference.

After settling into the match, Victoria generated a trio of corner kick opportunities that would come up shy of a final ball to the back of the net. A handful of chances that followed would also come up just short of generating the team’s first chance on goal.

“I thought our possession of the ball from 20 minutes till just before the end of the half was quite good,” Highlanders head coach Dave Dew said.

The Highlanders best opportunity came just before the halftime whistle, as English striker Andrew Ofosu was sent in just behind the Sounders’ back line, only to be assessed a caution after a collision with goalkeeper Cameron Frost.

Seattle earned several dangerous opportunities of their own, including two free kicks from just outside the Highlanders’ 18-yard box. Similar to their opponents, they would be unable to convert on either chance to give them an advantage in the opening 45-minutes.

Both teams would head into the break in a scoreless deadlock.

Each side made several changes as the second half wore on, with Highlanders head coach Dave Dew making several changes that included Elie Gindo, Solomon Constant, Justin Donaldson among others in an attempt to orchestrate a crucial go-ahead goal.

“We had some spells in the second half where I thought we panicked a little,” Dew added. “I think if we can take care of the ball better in late stages of the game that will help us.

Highlanders ‘keeper Simon Norgrove showed up big in second half when called upon, making an outstanding save late in the half that saw the 18-year-old fully extending to tip the bar over his crossbar. The save was just one of a handful of critical stops the young shot-stopper made, earning him Player of the Match honours after 90 minutes of play.

The Sounders broke the deadlock in the 86th minute, as Jones’ shot deflected off a Highlanders defender to slip past Norgrove and give the visitors the lead. Despite a valiant effort, Victoria was unable to answer back, conceding their first defeat of the year in a tightly contested match.

“[Sounders] are very well organized, as are we,” Dew concluded. “Our finishing wasn’t there today because they weren’t giving us opportunities to be fair.”

The Highlanders are back in action on June 2 at Centennial Stadium, when Calgary Foothills U-23 come to town. Kick-off in the match is set for 7:00 p.m.