Highlanders Bested by Strong Foothills Side

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Photo: Kelly Wallace

Victoria Highlanders FC (2-6-0) dropped an exciting clash versus division leaders Calgary Foothills FC (7-1-2), June 17 at Centennial Stadium in an action-packed Father’s Day game.

Bruno Zebie opened the scoring for Foothills followed by an equalizer from Victoria’s Mackenzie Cole. Calgary’s Jay Wheeldon, Moses Danto and Sergio Camargo scored three more in the final third of the game to take the points back to Calgary.

The Highlanders hosted the division leaders in Calgary Foothills FC on Sunday evening for Father’s Day. A change in the lineup from previous games saw four in the back with Mitchell Popadynetz moving to left full-back. Former Foothills forward Chris Rushworth started up front and looked to push forward.

The Foothills began their afternoon in Victoria with high pressure leading to the first goal at 5-minutes. After a scramble in the box the ball was laid off at the top of the eighteen to Calgary midfielder Bruno Zebie who hit it first time to take the early lead for the visitors.

The Highlanders looked to get back on the front foot with pressure fronted by local boy Mackenzie Cole. Attempting to get back into the game the Highlanders slowly began to build their way into the match.

At 18-minutes Foothills’ player Kyle Jones won a free kick that was delivered by Carlos Patino. The curled effort was headered just wide. The Highlanders continued to build into the game with Victoria midfielder Marcus Campanile continuing to drive forward the home team.

At 36-minutes Victoria’s ‘keeper Nolan Wirth made a massive save off a set piece to keep the Highlanders in the game before halftime. At 37-minutes the Highlanders found their equalizer. Making his first home start Cole found space for a shot, slotting the ball into the bottom corner to put the teams on equal terms.

Highlanders entered halftime on equal terms setting the stage for an exciting second half.

Victoria came into the second half  looking to pull of an upset and show how competitive the Northwest Division is. The home side only made one change going into the second half with winger and top scorer Cory Bent entering the game.

“We felt after we tied the game that going into the first twenty minutes of the second half we would possibly have a chance to do something here,” commented Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf.

The Highlanders began putting the pressure on with Mackenzie Cole troubling the visitor’s backline. The addition of Cory Bent on the wing injected energy into the home side going forward.

At 60-minutes Foothills subbed on Elijah Adekugbe and Nico Pasquotti looking for the lead. Only minutes later at 64-minutes a ball sent back in by Adekugbe was finished off by Jonathan Wheeldon to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

Highlanders responded putting speedy winger and University of Victoria Vikes’ standout Isaac Koch upfront. Calgary’s goalscorer Wheeldon went down with a slight knock and was replaced by Joel Waterman to keep the home side at bay.

At 68-minutes Calgary’s Moses Danto found space but sent the ball over the net in one of Calgary’s best efforts of the match.  Danto continued to trouble the Highlanders backline when at 77-minutes a great ball curled in was finished by Danto to double the visitors lead.

Foothills continued to look strong pushing forward. At 89-minutes Calgary’s Sergio Camargo got on the end of a cross field pass to put the game to rest at 4-1.

“They made some quality subs, we could not counter,” added Niendorf. “They brought more quality onto the field. The atmosphere was supportive, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The Highlanders return to Centennial Stadium Friday, June 29 versus Canadian rivals TSS FC Rovers. Kick-off is set for 6:35 p.m. PST.

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