Do or die for the women - The Province


Lose in Colorado and they can't make playoffs

By Marc Weber

Alan Koch wishes altitude adjustment was his team's biggest challenge in Colorado.

The Vancouver Whitecaps women's head coach is without four starters for tonight's do-or-die game against the Colorado Force (3-2-6) and Sunday's against the Real Colorado Cougars (3-5-3).

Forward Jodi-Ann Robinson, midfielders Chelsea Stewart and Carmelina Moscato and defender Shannon Woeller have all been called up to the senior national team for a pair of friendlies against the U.S.

"It's a big-time challenge," Koch said Thursday morning while watching Stewart and Woeller play in Canada's under-20 friendly versus the U.S. in Colorado. The two were set to fly to New York straight after to join the senior side.

"It's very difficult going into the most important weekend of the season without four of your top players, but we'll fight for it, we'll go for it."

The thing they are fighting for -- the second and final Western Conference playoff spot -- is within reach after the Seattle Sounders lost to lowly Ventura County on Wednesday night.

Seattle (3-1-6, 15 points) holds down second place but has to face defending W-League champion Pali Blues of L.A. (8-0-3) on Saturday, following tonight's tilt at the L.A. Legends (1-7-2).

If the Whitecaps (3-2-5, 14 points) win their final two games and Seattle loses one, the Whitecaps are in the playoffs.

A loss tonight eliminates Vancouver. A tie keeps them on life support. That they're even in this position after an 0-1-4 start to the season is improbable.

"We go down to breakfast this morning and all the players are talking about it," Koch said of Ventura County's 3-1 win over Seattle. "It gives us a little bit more momentum going into these games."

Robinson leads the Whitecaps with seven goals in 10 games. No one else has more than two, but Koch could look to Trinity Western University star Nikki Wright to fill the void. Wright has two goals in five games for Vancouver and just returned from the World University Games in Serbia.

University of Oregon forward Julie Armstrong, who's been capped six times, is also with the Whitecaps. She's played just 24 minutes this season due to school commitments.

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