Prospects drop Victoria PCSL openers

Saturday proved to be a tough day the Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects teams after they suffered season-opening defeats in the Pacific Coast Soccer League in Victoria.

The Prospect Men fell to a 2-0 defeat against last season's PCSL champions Victoria United at Royal Athletic Park, while the Prospect Women dropped a 3-1 result to Victoria Stars at Hampton Park.

Victoria United 2-0 Whitecaps Prospects Men

The Whitecaps Prospects Men opened their 2008 PCSL season with a difficult match away trip to perennial league powerhouse Victoria United, and despite a strong performance, Bart Choufour's side finished on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.

This was always going to be a challenging match for the young Whitecaps, playing against an experienced and physically imposing United team. And with several of his U-18 players injured, Choufour had to call upon some of U-17 additions for Saturday.

The Whitecaps rose to the challenge however, and play throughout the game was fairly even. Both teams had their chances, but Victoria looked the more dangerous side, and took a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 23rd minute through Mathew Northrup. United were controlling play in the midfield while also using the long ball game to good effect, with their tall powerful strikers being natural targets. But the Whitecaps had their share of possession as well.

In the second half, the Caps switched to a 3-5-2 formation to try and regain control of the midfield. It worked, but at the cost of greater vulnerability at the back. It remained 1-0, however, and with the Whitecaps enjoying more possession, and Victoria running out of steam as the game went on, the Prospects pressed for the equalizer.

With six minutes remaining, however, Victoria struck on the counter-attack. A long ball into the box went to Whitecaps goalkeeper Michael Branion-Calles, but he was flattened by a strong challenge in the air from a Victoria forward. No foul was given, and play continued even though the Whitecaps keeper was down and out and in need of medical attention. A Victoria shot on goal was blocked on the line by the hand of a Whitecaps defender, and when Branion-Calles was finally seen to and regained his senses, he had to get up and face a penalty kick, that was converted by United's Steven Gateley.

The Prospects Men's next match is Tuesday night against Vancouver Thunderbirds at UBC's Todd Field.

Whitecaps Prospects Men - starting line-up v Victoria United
Michael Branion-Calles; Lawrence Buchan, Ben Leggett, Branden McLean, Flo Liu; Milad Mehrabi, Dave Adams, Nat Blaiklock, Riley Newport; Ian Clark, Gavin Barrett

Victoria Stars 3-1 Whitecaps Prospects Women

The Whitecaps Women Prospects dropped their PCSL season opener, suffering a 3-1 defeat away to the Victoria Stars.

The Whitecaps started strong, and took the game to Victoria from the outset, but it was the hosts who found the net first. On 15 minutes, Victoria's Kate Hambleton found space on the right and looped a long-range effort over goalkeeper Shimone Slomowitz and into the top corner of the net for a 1-0 halftime lead.

The Stars doubled their lead early in the second half, as Jackie Snell had an easy tap-in in front of goal on 48 minutes after some nice approach play. Eight minutes later and Victoria had a 3-0 lead, as Liz Hansen's 23-yard free kick curled around the wall and went in off the far post.

The young Whitecaps didn't give up though, and finally got a well-deserved goal on 65 minutes, as Alicia Tesan forced the ball over the line in a scramble, following a corner kick from Kelly Cook. The Whitecaps continued to apply pressure, looking to cut the lead even further, but some strong play from Victoria goalkeeper Corey Gros kept the score at 3-1.

Whitecaps Prospects Women - starting line-up v Victoria Stars

Shimone Slomowitz; Brie Shaw, Kelly Cook, Mikyla Kay, Alicia Tesan; Tessa Meyer, Natalie Boyd, Janine Frazao, Chelsea Buckland; Lauren Hamson, Nikki Wright