Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Men suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat away to Kamloops Excel on Saturday evening.
The winning goal came in the ninth minute of second-half stoppage time at Hillside Stadium on the campus of Thompson Rivers University, with the Pacific Coast Soccer League contest starting later than the 7:30pm kick off time.
With his Prospects squad hard hit by injury and sickness, and no players available to be sent down from the Whitecaps Residency or men's first team, head coach Bart Choufour called up two youngsters from the Mountain WFC U-16 Super Y-League side in Kyle Knees and Nolan Moore. Both youngsters ended up seeing action against the Excel.
The first half was even, and closely contested, with few chances for either side. What chances there were, Vancouver enjoyed the better of them - most notably striker Ian Clark, who hit the post.
While the first half was played on a calm and sunny summer evening, the conditions changed dramatically for the second half. The sun began to set and a gale-force wind began to whip across the Hillside Stadium pitch, with the Whitecaps having the disadvantage of playing into the wind.
With the wind at their back, the home side now enjoyed the better of the play, but struggled to beat Prospects goalkeeper Michael Branion-Calles in the Vancouver goal. At the other end, Whitecaps substitute Nat Blaiklock had two clear shots at goal, but was unable to finish.
While it was not an especially chippy game, there were some incidents late in the half that had repercussions. With a quarter hour remaining, Whitecaps keeper Branion-Calles was leveled by a clothesline, with no call made on the play.
Two minutes later, Vancouver's Thomas Mallette was rightfully booked for an almost identical infraction. When Adrian Bears complained to the referee about the game's one-sided officiating, he was shown a straight red card, leaving the Whitecaps to finish the match with ten men.
It proved to be a long night for the young Whitecaps. With Kamloops pressing for the winner, the referee added nine minutes of stoppage time, and sure enough, the Excel scored the game's only goal in the final seconds of the game through Chris Monteleone.
Despite the very late defeat, Choufour praised his young players for battling hard under difficult conditions. "They did well," he said afterwards. "It looked like we were going to get our first clean sheet of the season."
The Prospects Men will look to pick themselves up on Sunday afternoon, as they complete their two-game road trip to the British Columbia Interior when they meet Okanagan Challenge at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.
Whitecaps Prospects Men - line-up v Kamloops Excel
Michael Branion-Calles; Ashley Ankiewicz, Ben Hemphill, Ben Leggett, Flo Liu; Lawrence Buchan, Jordan Whitehead, Gavin Barrett, Milad Mehrabi; Adrian Bears, Ian Clark
Subs used: Nolan Moore, Kyle Knees, Nat Blaiklock, Thomas Mallette