FC TIGERS VANCOUVER CAPTURE 2019 PCSL CHALLENGE CUP

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The 2019 Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) Sheila Anderson Memorial Challenge Cup Final was held at Centennial Stadium between Victoria Highlanders FC and FC Tigers Vancouver on Sunday, July 28th. Farivar Torabi scored four goals, including a first half hat trick, while the Highlanders received goals from Simon Stacey, with a brace, Cam Hundal, and Patrick Nelson as they fought back from an early 3-0 deficit. The game remained tied 4-4 after extra time and a penalty shoot out was needed to determine a winner. In the shoot out, Vancouver scored four goals to Victoria’s two and claimed the 2019 Challenge Cup.

The match saw the top-two seeds of the 2019 PCSL playoffs squaring off as the Highlanders looked to add to their regular season title. Farivar Torabi, who put up a brace in Saturday’s semi-final match against Surrey United, opened the scoring in the 7th minute as he corralled the long ball before firing it past Ethan May. The Vancouver forward found himself with another opportunity just three minutes later as the Tigers were awarded a penalty in the 10th minute. Torabi stepped up and made no mistake as he converted from the spot to give the visiting team a 2-0 lead. Torabi completed the hat trick in the 16th minute as he fought off his defender and redirected the cross into the back of the net.

Victoria battled back as the next goal was crucial. Ian Whibley, coming off his own brace in the semi-finals against Okanagan FC, broke in alone but was turned aside by Lukas Strauts in the 19th minute. Simon Stacey took advantage of a scramble in front of the net after a Highlanders’ free kick and slid his shot just inside the left post in the 25th minute to put the Highlanders on the board. Stacey would have a hand in the next goal of the match as he dished it off to Hundal who cut across the box before firing it into the back of the net in the 31st minute to make it a 3-2 game.  Victoria came close to tying it up on a dangerous chance by Whibley, but Strauts made the diving stop and ensured that the Tigers would hold a 3-2 lead after 45 minutes of play.

The Highlanders came out of halftime looking to tie the game in the early stages of the half and they came close. In the 49th minute, Hundal sent a through ball to Whibley who ran behind the defenders but Strauts came out to make the save. A goal against the run of play saw Torabi score his fourth goal of the match, and sixth of the weekend, in the 58th minute when he redirected the cross with a header. The home team didn’t let the goal get to them as they responded with a goal of their own in the 65th minute. Stacey volleyed the ball into the back of the net to secure the brace and make it a 4-3 game. Victoria tied the game at four just minutes later as Patrick Nelson took advantage of an awarded penalty in the 69th minute and fired it from the spot past Strauts.

After the game tying goal, the game slowed down a bit as both teams were more cautious in their approach on the field. Both teams came within inches of scoring the go-ahead goal in the final minutes, but both goalies were up to the task and the game headed to extra time tied at four. Just a minute into extra time, Hundal created a prime scoring opportunity but Strauts came up with the big point-blank save. Maurizio Abdi followed up with a chance of his own after some fancy footwork, but his shot was pushed just wide. It looked as though Torabi was about to score his fifth goal of the match, but he was robbed by a fantastic save by Ethan May before Torabi fired the rebound off the post. With the match entering 100 plus minutes of play, the offensive chances were harder to come by for both teams and the game headed to a penalty shoot out with the score deadlocked at 4-4.

In the shoot out Vancouver received goals from Torabi, Ceranic, Fagboni, and Budhisa to put the pressure on the home team. Patrick Nelson missed his attempt, Evan Libke and Sergio Duran scored from the spot for the Highlanders, but Strauts’ save on Chris Merriman’s shot clinched the win for the Tigers and gave them the 4-2 victory in penalties. Vancouver captured the 2019 PCSL Sheila Anderson Memorial Challenge Cup and Torabi was named Tournament MVP after posting seven goals in two games.
Congratulations to FC Tigers Vancouver on their Challenge Cup win and congratulations to the Highlanders Second Team for a great 2019 season.