Wright comes to Whitecaps' rescue - The Province


Rookie scores early in injury time in 1-1 draw with Seattle

BY MARC WEBER

Nikki Wright picked up with the Vancouver Whitecaps where she left off with the Trinity Western Spartans.

The 18-year-old from Surrey scored two minutes into injury time as the Whitecaps earned a 1-1 tie against the Seattle Sounders in their W-League opener Saturday at Swangard Stadium.

This is Wright's first season with the Whitecaps, not counting the 20 minutes she played last year when the national under-20s were called away. She's coming off an impressive university campaign with the Spartans in which she earned the rare double honour of being named Canada West rookie of the year and player of the year.

"I had a nice little break after Trinity, but luckily I've been able to get roped in with the Whitecaps and have high-quality training, and I never really missed a beat," said the humble Wright. "For sure it's been fun. I was not expecting anything like that [success as a Canada West rookie], but it's the team behind me that makes me the player I am and that last ball was an example. It was a perfect ball in." Rachael Pelat's long, high cross was too tough for Seattle keeper Kati Hultin to fully punch away, and it fell to Wright at the post. The high-energy Wright should take some credit, though, as her work rate after coming on in the 68th minute helped change the feel of the game.

"It's infectious," said first-year coach Alan Koch. "She got herself going and she helped the players around her. It was great to see her score." Seattle owned much of the first half. More specifically, Lyndsey Patterson owned the Whitecaps defence.

The speedy, shifty former University of Tennessee forward opened the scoring in the 24th minute and would have scored or created two or three more were it not for Sian Bagshawe in the Whitecaps' net.

Vancouver settled down to start the second half and came in waves in the final 10 minutes. The Whitecaps now have two-and-a-half weeks off before their next game.

"It's almost like a new preseason," said Koch. "Some of the players only got in the last few days. Thankfully they knew each other's names today. Now we actually start to build something." mweber@theprovince.com

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