Siblings tough to separate - The Province


Vancouver's Chelsea Stewart faces sister Emily today

BY MARC WEBER

Bill Stewart is hoping for a draw with no blood drawn.

His 19-year-old daughter Chelsea, a midfielder for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and his 20-year-old daughter Emily, a midfielder for Real Colorado, go head-to-head in W-League action at Coquitlam's Percy Perry Stadium today.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Bill talks like it should be at high noon.

"You wouldn't believe how they get into it sometimes," he said Thursday with a tinge of glee.

"They've had some real physical fights. Coaches in high school wouldn't put them on different teams. They made that mistake one time and the girls got into it -- I mean, it was bad. From then on, they always played on the same team in scrimmages.

"So, that's why we're going to have some fun up in Vancouver."

Chelsea claims her dad is embellishing, but the second-year Whitecap admits she's long had a healthy rivalry with her older sister. The two won a high school championship together in Colorado but played in different age groups for club soccer.

Emily is heading into her senior year at the University of Denver -- her dad's alma mater -- while Chelsea will be a freshman this fall at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

"She's always been a good source of competition," Chelsea said of Emily. "There's that one person that can push you, that person who'll let you know what they think and you can take harsh criticism from. We're really close though. I don't think a day goes by without talking to her."

Perhaps Bill's hockey background has rubbed off on his daughters. After a college career with the Pioneers, Bill was a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota North Stars in 1980 and almost represented Canada at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics -- cut by Dave King after a tune-up series against the U.S.

Bill taught his daughters not to be scared of anything and to never hit the turf unless they had a serious injury.

"He definitely instilled some toughness," said Chelsea, who's 5-foot-5.

Bill also had an influence on Chelsea's national loyalty. While Bill is originally from The Pas, Manitoba, Chelsea was born in Colorado and moved to Virginia, Minnesota and, most recently, Wenatchee, Wash., as Bill became owner/operator of various minor league hockey teams.

Still, Chelsea said she's always felt Canadian, and a year ago she moved to B.C. to be part of the under-20 national team. She was a last-minute injury call-up to the Beijing Olympic team, competed at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Chile in November, and earned her first four senior caps at the Cyprus Cup in March.

"It's kind of a pride thing," said Chelsea, whose mom, Carla, was born on an American military base in Naples, Italy.

"My dad played for Canada, and when we're sitting at home, watching the Olympics or anything like that, our family cheers for Canada rather than America. It's just always been there."

The Canadian team is also easier to crack, and that was a factor in the move, too. Chelsea was in and out of U.S. youth national teams until the under-16 level but wanted a more consistent commitment.

"Everything's been absolutely wonderful for the 12 months she's been a Canadian," Bill said.

And as for that sibling border war, Chelsea points out that both are playing on the left side of midfield, so they could well get through 90 minutes without running into each other today.

"But if we do," she said, "I'm sure there'll be some intense moments."

There's always the rematch, July 19 in Colorado.

Today's game: 4 p.m.

Whitecaps vs. Real Colorado at

Percy Perry Stadium, Coquitlam

The skinny: Vancouver's final home game of the season is another must-win, as the Caps (2-2-5) try to catch Seattle (3-0-5) for the second and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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