The 2019 Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) Challenge Cup playoffs kicked off with a pair of semi-final matches at Centennial Stadium on Saturday, July 27th. In the first match of the day (2:30 p.m. kickoff), FC Tigers Vancouver scored four second half goals, including a brace from Faravir Torabi, on their way to a 5-1 win over Surrey United. The second game of the playoffs (4:30 p.m. kickoff) saw Victoria Highlanders FC come back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to take the 2-1 win over Okanagan FC with UVic Vike Ian Whibley recording the brace. FC Tigers Vancouver and Highlanders FC will play for the 2019 Sheila Anderson Memorial Challenge Cup on Sunday, May 28th (1:30 p.m. kickoff) at Centennial Stadium.
FC Tigers Vancouver vs Surrey United
In the first game of the afternoon, FC Tigers Vancouver took on the third-seeded Surrey United. The opening stages of the match saw both teams settle into the match as both teams battled for possession. United created chances in the early going, but Vancouver’s backline was able to turn them aside. In the 34th minute, Taynoure Bashghare converted on his chance to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Vancouver came close to extending their lead, but Surrey United held on to keep the score 1-0 after 45 minutes of play.
The second half saw Vancouver’s Faravir Torabi put the game away within a span of five minutes. Torabi’s first goal of the match was in the 63rd minute before he completed the brace in the 68th minute to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. Vuk Ceranic added to the lead in the 82nd minute and Nicolas Budhisa rounded out the scoring for Vancouver in the 87th minute. In the closing moments of the match Marco Visintin broke up the clean sheet when he converted in the 89th minute for Surrey. At the final whistle FC Tigers Vancouver walked away with the 5-1 lead and advanced to the 2019 PCSL Challenge Cup Finals.
Victoria Highlanders FC vs Okanagan FC
Victoria Highlanders FC squared off against Okanagan FC in the second semi-final matchup. Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ethan May was busy early on as he turned away a tough angle shot in the 6th minute before grabbing a deflection off an Okanagan free kick in the 15th minute. Those saves were followed up by near misses from Jorge Angelmira, in the 25th minute, and Randy Hubber, in 31st minute.
The Highlanders created a pair of high-quality scoring chances in the final minutes of the half. Patrick Nelson’s long distance shot in the 40th was covered up by the Okanagan goalkeeper and Ian Whibley’s point-blank chance was pushed aside in the 42nd minute. Bad luck followed shortly after as Bobby Eng deflected a cross into his own net in the 43rd minute and Okanagan FC held a 1-0 at halftime.
With a berth in the Challenge Cup Finals on the line, the Highlanders came out of halftime with energy and took advantage of some creative offense. Cam Hundal cut up the left side and into the box before sliding it over to Whibley who fired it into the back of the net in the 51st minute tying the game at one. Whibley struck again when he took advantage of a Cam Hundal long ball that found him behind the defense before firing it past the goalkeeper to give the Highlanders a 2-1 lead.
Okanagan FC was close to tying the game in the 58th minute but the shot went just wide. Whibley came close to converting the hat trick in the 82nd minute but his chance, as well as Ryan Ashlee’s follow up chance, were blocked by the defenders. The Highlanders defense and Ethan May fought off Okanagan FC’s efforts to tie the game and Victoria earned the 2-1 win. With the win the Highlanders will move on to face FC Tigers Vancouver in the 2019 PCSL Challenge Cup Finals on Sunday afternoon.
Victoria Highlanders Second Team is back in action on Sunday, July 28th as they host FC Tigers Vancouver in the 2019 PCSL Challenge Cup Final at Centennial Stadium.