Sebrango salvages tie with Railhawks - The Vancouver Sun

Late marker is first against Carolina squad

John Atkinson
Vancouver Sun

Eduardo Sebrango salvaged an important USL-1 point for the Whitecaps against a team they had previously failed to score against in two attempts.

Dan Antoniuk fired the American visitors in front against the run of play in the 74th minute and it seemed as if the apparent hoodoo the Carolina Railhawks' hold over the home side was about to strike again.

However, within a minute Sebrango caught the visitors cold with a sucker punch, latching onto a Martin Nash throughball and calmly slotting past Chris McClellan.

Whitecaps defender Jeff Clarke, who is currently part of the tightest defence in the league, said afterwards: "If this was boxing, we would be undefeated in the last 10 bouts. But to win games you need to create clear-cut chances -- and that is all about the final ball. We are working hard on improving that in training, but it isn't translating into our play at the moment."

The Whitecaps had the lion's share during the first period, forcing five corners against the visitors' two, but they were unable to turn that into scoring opportunities.

Vicente Arze neatly flicked on Justin Moose's corner in the 24th minute, but nobody was anticipating it.

Takashi Hirano and Lyle Martin then made forays down opposing flanks in quick succession for the home side, whipping in dangerous crosses on both occasions -- but again there were no teammates in position to capitalize.

The visitors, in fact, went closest to breaking the deadlock just before half-time. Chad Dombrowski headed a corner back across the penalty area and Hamed Diallo hooked a shot-on-the-turn inches over the crossbar.

Against the run of play, Carolina took the lead in the 74th minute. Diallo flicked on a throughball, the home side was wrongfooted and Antoniuk nipped in, making no mistake with a crisp half-volley.

However, within 60 seconds the Whitecaps were level. Nash volleyed the ball over the Railhawks' defence from inside his own half, into the path of Sebrango. His first touch looked to be too hard, but he was still able to deftly flick the ball over McClellan.

Hours before the men hit the field, Tiffeny Milbrett inspired the Whitecaps women to a crucial 3-1 Western Conference win over Fort Collins Force.

Milbrett provided the perfect assist for Karla Schacher's 11th-minute opener and then netted twice herself as their American visitors were overpowered by a first-half display of ruthless efficiency.

Needing to win their last two games to guarantee a play-off place, the Whitecaps got the early breakthrough they were looking for when Milbrett's drilled cross was lashed home at the far post by Schacher.

Seven minutes before half-time the home side doubled their lead when Fort Collins defender Sally Cole clumsily upended Monica Lam-Feist inside the penalty box and Milbrett made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick.

The Colorado side's misery was essentially complete when a defensive mix-up between goalkeeper Emma Bailey and defender Cole allowed Milbrett to pounce, hooking the ball into an unguarded net for the Whitecaps' third.

Having twice been thwarted by the woodwork after the interval, the Whitecaps took their foot of the gas in the latter stages and Cayla Deacon's curling 20-yard free-kick was some consolation for the visitors.

jatkinson@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 2008