Whitecaps FC women lose tough match to Pali Blues in California

Three-match road trip begins with 2-1 defeat to first-place Blues

On a beautiful sunny Wednesday night in Southern California, Vancouver Whitecaps FC women lost a tough 2-1 match to the Western Conference-leading Pali Blues in United Soccer Leagues W-League action.

The Blue and White got off to a great start, as striker Jenna Richardson capitalized on an early Pali turnover. Richardson stole the ball from the Pali defender and went one-on-one with Pali goalkeeper Anna Picarelli. The Oregon State University striker wound up and buried the shot low to the far side of the net to make it 1-0 ‘Caps on seven minutes.

The Blues, however, would come out with purpose after the ‘Caps took the lead, as they mounted plenty of offensive pressure against Vancouver.

Pali finally broke through on 28 minutes when defender Michelle Pao grabbed a loose ball in the ‘Caps half, turned inside the visitors' box, and fired a cracker past Vancouver goalkeeper Gurveen Clair to tie it at 1-1.

“We started extremely strong,” said Whitecaps FC women’s head coach Jesse Symons. “But their goal really gave them momentum going forward.”

The Blues then kept the pressure on, as they looked to put on a show in front of their boisterous home supporters.

They broke through again at 35 minutes, as Lynn Williams worked her way through Whitecaps FC to the outside of the box and put in a beautiful cross which found the head of Danielle Hubka to make it 2-1 for the home team.

In the second half, the 'Caps tried to push forward offensively, but the Pali back four remained up to the task, as they stymied multiple Vancouver runs into their defensive third.

Vancouver's best chance of the second half came off the boot of striker Mele French, as she sliced through the Pali defence and wired a shot low far post, but only to see Picarelli just get her hand on it to steer it wide.

In the end, Pali held on for the win, which keeps them in first place in the W-League Western Conference standings and gives them 31 points on the season with a record of 10W-0L-1D. The loss for the 'Caps keeps them in sixth spot in the conference with nine points on the season and a record of 2W-4L-3D.

The Blue and White now move ahead to their next match of their California trip on Friday night, as they visit LA Strikers at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, at 7 p.m. PT.

“Tonight, the players worked extremely hard,” noted Symons. “On Friday, we will look to have a strong bounce back performance.”

Whitecaps FC women play their final home match in their Whitecaps Women’s Soccer Series on Sunday, July 8, at 4 p.m. PT at Minoru Park in Richmond, BC. For schedule and ticket information, visit whitecapsfc.com or contact Hugh Hamilton at 778-330-1360.

Scoring Summary:
7’ – VAN – Jenna Richardson
28’ – PAL – Michelle Pao
35’ – PAL – Danielle Hubka (Lynn Williams)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 8 – Pali Blues 10
Saves: Vancouver 5 – Pali Blues 3
Fouls: Vancouver 4 – Pali Blues 5
Corners: Vancouver 0 – Pali Blues 8
Offsides: Vancouver 3 – Pali Blues 2

Cautions:
None

Pali Blues
1.Anna Picarelli; 5.Kahlia Hogg, 4.Whitney Engen, 13.Sasha Andrews, 3.Elizabeth Eddy; 14.Sarah Huffman, 2.Camille Levin, 20.Mariah Nogueira; 34.Danielle Hubka, 15.Michelle Pao, 25.Lynn Williams

Substitute not used: 21.Ryan Torrero, 6.Yesim Uzunlar, 22.Shanna Hudson, 24.Elizabeth Franco, 23.Lydia Hastings, 8.Anisa Guajardo, 17.Melanie DeSalvo

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
30.Gurveen Clair; 8.Demi Stokes (28.Brittany Galindo 61’), 33.Shannon Woeller (16.Mary Kate McLaughlin 88’), 4.Danielle Johnson, 25.Jenna Carosio (6.Jaclyn Sawicki 82’); 19.Molly Rouse (20.Alison Fenter 69’), 18.Nicole Setterlund, 23.Jenny Jeffers (22.Brandi Vega 78’), 21.Paige Adams (24.Marissa Mykines 58’); 29.Mele French, 3.Jenna Richardson

Substitute not used: 31.Alyssa Williamson