Prospects Women end season with win


Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women scored four goals in a nine-minute span in the first half, as they romped to a 6-1 win over Fraser Valley Action at Simon Fraser University on Tuesday evening.

The game closed out Vancouver's Pacific Coast Soccer League regular season, while clinching them a spot in the Challenge Cup in the process.

With the Whitecaps first team playing a critical USL W-League game on Sunday, head coach Bob Birarda used this match to give some of his players some extra game time. This meant that Prospects head coach Jesse Symons had to sit many of his starters, while hoping that the sudden infusion of first-team talent did not disrupt the chemistry of his winning squad.

Added to the starting eleven for this match were four players from Canada's victorious U-20 team last month - forward Julie Armstrong, midfielder Paige Adams, and defenders Tina Romagnuolo and Shannon Woeller. As well, veteran Rosalyn Hicks returned to the Prospects midfield.

The Whitecaps opened scoring on minute 14 on a rather untidy goal. Hicks sent in a good ball that was met by a poor defensive header. The ball bounced around in the goalmouth in a mad scramble, hit the post, and was finally forced over the goal line by Armstrong.

Armstrong's height up front was causing all sorts of problems for the visitors, and it nearly led to another untidy goal following a corner kick on minute 26 - only this time the ball was cleared off the goal line by the Action.

The Whitecaps made it 2-0 just past the half-hour mark. On minute 32, Armstrong could not find a way through at the top of the Fraser Valley box, but Adams picked up the loose ball and burst into the box, sidestepping Action goalkeeper Veronika Rogina and hitting the empty net.

Two minutes later, the 'Caps struck again. Tina Romagnuolo sent a long ball forward to in-form striker Chelsea Buckland, who chested it down superbly and then volleyed it over Rogina and in from the edge of the box.

On minute 39, Kirsteen Buchan sent Buckland breaking in on goal, and while Rogina stopped her first shot from in close, and her second on the rebound, the striker's perseverance was rewarded, as her third shot made it over the goal line. It was Buckland's ninth goal in three games over four days.

The rout continued two minutes after that, as Buchan won the ball in front of goal and dished it to Adams, who fired in her second from six yards out.

The visitor's best chance of the first half came in the final minute, as Brittany Heinrich's looping header from in close off a corner kick was gathered by Whitecaps goalkeeper Stephanie Panozzo.

It was 5-0 at halftime.

The Whitecaps made a number of changes at the break, with Janine Frazao, Alicia Tesan, Nikki Wright, and Alanna Foster all coming into the game, while Adams went up front and Romagnuolo moved into midfield.

The reshuffling seemed to take some of the momentum out of the match. As well, Fraser Valley played a better second half, as they looked to redeem themselves after a poor opening 45 minutes.

Panozzo was called upon to make a good stop early in the half to keep the Action off the scoresheet. On minute 50, she saved off Daniela Gerig in close after the striker made a good run into the box.

At the other end, Rogina made two good saves off Armstrong, including bravely stopping a partial breakaway on minute 64. Armstrong finally did get her second goal, however, as she fired in a loose ball in a scramble on minute 70.

With time running down, Fraser Valley netted a consolation goal with a great shot from the edge of the area by Kaleigh Henry on minute 83.

The goal ended Panozzo's shutout bid, leaving the only question whether Adams or Armstrong could complete a hat-trick (Buckland, who was also on two goals, had come off at halftime). Adams came the closest with five minutes remaining, as Lauren Hamson made a good run down the right before finding Adams at the far post, but her bobbling shot came back off the near post.

The Prospects Women finish their PCSL Premier Division season at 10-3-3, which guarantees them a top-three placing ahead of Fraser Valley. Vancouver will claim second place, unless Tri-Cities Xtreme can win their final four games and improve their goal difference by plus 23. Fraser Valley, meanwhile, drop to 9-4-2 and host Surrey United on Thursday night to complete their regular season campaign.

Next up for the Prospects Women is the four-club Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup, which will be held at Cloverdale Athletic Park on the weekend of July 26 and 27. The Whitecaps join Victoria Stars, hosts Surrey United and either Fraser Valley or Tri-Cities in the PCSL end-of-season tournament.