Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women battled to a wild 5-5 draw against Pacific Coast Soccer League leaders Victoria Stars on Sunday afternoon at Simon Fraser University.
Both teams held and then lost two-goal leads, as the momentum swung between both sides in a fast-paced and entertaining PCSL Premier Division match.
Victoria jumped to an early lead, as just two minutes in, Liz Hansen took a pass from a short corner before beating her Whitecaps marker and sending a cross to the near post, where Amy Thorogood flicked it in on the short side.
The Stars made it 2-0 on ten minutes after Whitecaps goalkeeper Stephanie Panozzo took down Hansen in the Vancouver box. The PCSL's leading scorer got up to put away the penalty kick herself and double the visitors' advantage.
Playing their second game in as many days, and suddenly down two goals to the league's top team, the Prospects could have been excused for hanging their heads. Instead, they dug deep and battled back. Chelsea Buckland started the comeback with a superb solo effort, as she took on and beat three Victoria players on the right before burying her shot in the top right corner of the Stars goal.
Just a minute later, Tessa Meyer fed the ball ahead to Nikki Wright, who was then taken down in the box for a penalty kick. Buckland stepped up to the spot and hammered home the equalizer.
The Whitecaps continued to press, and took the lead at the half-hour mark, as Alanna Foster on the right crossed for Wright, who then fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal for 3-2.
Victoria responded and drew level on minute 39. Nellena Kurylo caught Panozzo out with a quick free kick from 35 yards out, with the set-piece sailing over the Prospects keeper and in to make it 3-3 at halftime.
The Whitecaps looked to take control of the match early in the second half. On minute 52, some nice combination play resulted in Kirsteen Buchan dishing to Buckland, who then picked the bottom left corner of the goal for her hat-trick. It was the striker's seventh goal in two days!
On minute 63, the home side made it 5-3 with the prettiest goal of the afternoon. A six-player passing move ended with Buckland flipping it to Natalie Boyd, who played it to Janine Frazao on the right. Frazao broke in and found the bottom right corner with her shot.
Victoria, however, showed their resolve. On minute 70, Sarah Rhodes fed a through ball to Hansen, who scored her second of the game to make it 5-4.
It looked like Vancouver would hold on for a remarkable victory, but there was one final twist to this game's tale.
With a minute remaining in regulation, a Stars cross from the right went over everybody, finding Mariel Solsberg to the left of goal. She turned and hit a high shot, which went in at the far post for a 5-5 final score.
"It was a fun game to watch," said Prospects head coach Jesse Symons, who saw his team score an incredible fifteen goals in two PCSL games over the weekend.
There will be little time to rest for the Whitecaps, however, as they face their biggest match of the season on Tuesday night when Symons' side host Fraser Valley Action at SFU. The 9-3-3 Whitecaps lead the 9-3-2 Action by one point, and can clinch a spot in the PCSL Challenge Cup with a win in what will be their final game of the regular season. Any other result means the Whitecaps fate is out of their hands, and will depend on what Fraser Valley and Tri-Cities Xtreme do in their final regular season games.
Victoria, meanwhile, at 12-1-2 have already clinched the league title and a place in the Challenge Cup. They conclude their season on Saturday at Kelowna United.
Whitecaps Prospects Women - starting line-up v Victoria Stars
Stephanie Panozzo; Kelly Cook, Brienna Shaw, Carolyn Bell; Alanna Foster, Natalie Boyd, Tessa Meyer, Marika Posehn; Chelsea Buckland, Alicia Tesan, Nikki Wright