VICTORIA, BC – Victoria Highlanders FC (2-4-0) captured all three points against Seattle Sounders U-23 (1-1-2) to kick off June on the front foot. After going down 1-0, the Highlanders stormed back with a two-goal second half with goals from Marcus Campanile and Mitch Popadynetz to capture their second win of the Premier Development League (PDL) season.
Head coach Thomas Niendorf commented ahead of Friday night the plan to head into the game with a positive and fresh outlook versus an undefeated Sounders squad. Niendorf was true to his word at kick-off, as his squad debuted a new formation starting three at the back in a 3-5-2 formation.
A quick start from wingers Isaac Koch and Cory Bent gave the home team multiple chances, including two from Victoria’s Campanile, who was stopped by Sounders goalkeeper Ben Willis. At 26-minutes, a strike from Sounders captain Santiago Patino was hit just over goal, but it was the home side who controlled a majority of the opening half.
At 38-minutes Patino found himself standing over the penalty spot following a tough penalty decision on the Highlanders. Victoria ‘keeper Nolan Wirth made a spectacular save, before Patino got his head on the rebound and slotted home the first goal to give the visitors a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
The second half kicked off with a great chance from Hundal at 50-minutes that was stopped by Willis. A great chance from Popadynetz followed by a breakaway attempt from University of Victoria Vikes standout Isaac Koch were also denied.
The Highlanders breakthrough came at 61-minutes off a corner sent in from Koch. Koch’s delivery was met by Campanile to equalize with just under a half-hour left in the game.
The game came to a head at 84-minutes when multiple shots on Seattle’s net were finally converted by Mitchell Popadynetz to take the lead with six minutes left in the game.
Despite multiple chances the Highlanders backline stood firm sealing their second victory of the 2018 season.
“I think we really deserved the win,” said Niendorf. “We really improved our game second half. We had the quality, the possession that we were looking for. We asked everybody to want the ball, to look for the ball, to penetrate and to put pressure on them. We began high pressing which we executed well.”
The Highlanders are back in action Sunday, June 3 in Burnaby at the historic Swangard Stadium, with kick-off set for 2:00 p.m. PST.
The Highlanders return to Centennial Stadium Sunday, June 17 versus Canadian rival Calgary Foothills FC. Kick-off is set for 2:00 p.m. PST. For more information, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca.Vic