The Victoria Highlanders Second Team (2-0-1) played a pair of Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) matches on the mainland over the weekend. First, the Highlanders traveled to Surrey to take on Surrey United, a match that ended in a 1-1 draw. The second match of the weekend had the Highlanders travel to Vancouver to square off against FC Tigers Vancouver in a match that saw the visiting side take the 3-2 win.

Highlanders FC vs Surrey United

The first match of the weekend saw Ethan May start his first game between the sticks. While it may have been his first PCSL start in goal, May showed composure against a Surrey United team made up primarily of University of British Columbia (UBC) alumni as well as current UBC and Trinity Western players. The first half was a well paced 45 minutes from both sides, with May making a great save to keep the game scoreless heading into the half.

The second half saw the visiting side push for the first goal of the game, but it was the home squad that struck first in the 60th minute. Down a goal on the road, the Highlanders responded right back with an offensive attack as they looked for the equalizer. In the 75th minute their pressure was rewarded after Simon Stacey was able to convert on his chance and tie the game at one. While the Highlanders looked for the go-ahead goal late in the match, their back four of Ryan Ashlee, Rees Gertzen, Bobby Eng, and Joey Seo shut down Surrey United for the last third of the half. After 90 minutes of play, both teams walked away with a point after a 1-1 final.

“Their team has top-end skill throughout the lineup with a number of quality players from UBC and Trinity Western. We battled and our guys played very well,” added Highlanders Second Team head coach Nico Craveiro. “We created a number of opportunities and chances; we just need to make sure going forward that we are taking advantage of these opportunities and scoring off the chances we create for ourselves. Our goal is to keep it tight defensively in the back and not concede goals and to not give up too many chances for their offense. We’ve had a very consistent back four that have been good and reliable in these opening games of the season.”

Highlanders FC vs FC Tigers Vancouver

Sachdev Grewal, just 17 years of age, started in goal for the Highlanders in a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Vancouver side. The home squad started out the match with an aggressive offensive game plan that saw them control the tempo for the first 30 minutes. A run of play that took advantage of a couple miscues and resulted in the first goal of the game going to the Tigers. The Highlanders tightened up in the last 15 minutes of the half as they started to control the midfield. At the half, the home side held a 1-0 lead.

Coming out for the second half, the Highlanders made four substitutions to refresh the squad for the final 45. While Vancouver scored early to make it 2-0; the changes at the half paid off as the visiting team was able to mount a comeback shortly afterwards.

Paddy Nelson and Ian Whibley scored 10 minutes apart to tie the game at two and swing the momentum to the road team. The 65th minute saw the Highlanders make another substitution, bringing in Cam Hundal to add to the offensive push. The move paid off as Hundal completed the comeback in the 80th minute to give the Highlanders squad a 3-2 lead. Grewal shut it down from there and earned his first PCSL win as the Highlanders held on for the 3-2 win.

“We played a team that likes to possess the ball and has gone to the Provincial Finals the past two years, and inning it two years ago. They were the better team in the first half, but our back line tightened it up as the half went on and we then started to create some opportunities in the late stages of the first half,” stated Craveiro. “At the half we made four changes, and that led to us taking control of the play and creating a lot of offensive opportunities. We got two goals in a span of ten minutes from Paddy (Nelson) and Ian (Whibley), before we subbed Cam Hundal in looking for that go ahead score. He of course ended up scoring the game winner, that’s what happens when you have good depth and can put a player of that quality into a game in the later moments. We have that mix of youth and experience that will only help us moving forward. I’m impressed with this start to the season and getting four of a possible six points on the road is a good result for this past weekend as it moves us up the table.”

The Highlanders Second Team come back home for a pair of matches this weekend. First up is a matchup against Okanagan FC on Saturday, June 1 with a 4:00 p.m. kickoff. Then the Highlanders will host PSC Tim Hortons Pinnacles on Sunday, June 2 with kickoff set for 12:00 p.m. The Highlanders Second Team will play their home games out of UVic Grass Field #4 for the 2019 PCSL campaign.