Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women fell 4-2 to Tri-Cities Xtreme in the semifinals of the Pacific Coast Soccer League Challenge Cup at Cloverdale Athletic Park in Surrey, BC, on Saturday evening.
The Whitecaps had ample opportunity to turn the tables on their opponents, but either failed to hit the target or were robbed by Xtreme goalkeeper Kasia Gwiazda. At the other end, Vancouver were punished by the clinical finishing of former Whitecaps striker Phebe Trotman, who struck for a hat-trick for the Coquitlam-based club.
While both teams had their share of possession early on, it was the Whitecaps who looked the more dangerous. Nine minutes in, a high ball into the box by Marika Posehn bounced awkwardly for Gwiazda, who had to back pedal to push the ball over the crossbar. From the ensuing corner kick, Chelsea Buckland sent a header just over the target.
On 18 minutes, a good ball into the box by Janine Frazao was partially cleared and fell to Alicia Tesan, whose crisp shot was superbly saved by Gwiazda. A minute later, Buckland broke in on the left before laying the ball off for Natalie Boyd to take a strike, which the Tri-Cities keeper was also equal to.
Tri-Cities then stunned the Whitecaps with two quick goals by Trotman on breakaways. On minute 22, she got on to a bouncing ball from Kristine Jack and fired it high into the net. Two minutes later, it was Melissa Mobilio who was the provider, as she sent Trotman in on the right before she finished her second goal well.
The Whitecaps persevered, however. On minute 27, substitute Lauren Hamson got off a curling shot from the edge of the area that Gwiazda barely stopped on the goal line.
Vancouver pulled a goal back on the half-hour mark, as a good diagonal cross from Carolyn Bell's free kick on the right went all the way to Tessa Meyer on the left of goal. Her first shot was a poor one, but she still managed to handcuff Gwiazda, who gave up a rebound that Meyer gratefully deposited for 2-1.
It was all Whitecaps now, with the speedy youngsters attacking in waves, as they went in search of the equalizer. Tesan chipped a shot just wide on minute 32, then broke in again on minute 38, but she had her high shot deflect off Gwiazda and go just over the crossbar. A minute later, Hamson did well to cut inside, but she blasted a left-footed strike inches too high.
The Xtreme's only other chance of the half came from a long-range blast from Lauren Lachlan that was well held by Prospects goalkeeper Shimone Slomowitz.
It was 2-1 for the Xtreme at halftime.
Tri-Cities came out well after the break. Trotman almost netted a third on minute 53, She broke in on goal, but this time tried a low shot, which Slomowitz stopped.
Back the other way, and Gwiazda made two sensational saves to preserve the Tri-Cities lead. On minute 54, she reacted superbly to push over a hard shot from Buckland that looked a certain goal. A few minutes later from a corner kick, a header came in from Kelly Cook that Gwiazda again somehow managed to keep out.
As had happened in the first half, two great chances by Vancouver were followed by two quick goals by the Xtreme, as the momentum again swung. On minute 58, Carlen Oates wide on the left hit a wicked shot that dipped over Slomowitz and found the far side of the net. Then a minute later, Trotman turned and buried a shot to earn her hat-trick, and seal the Whitecaps fate.
Down 4-1, the game now seemed out of the Prospects reach, and chances were few. There was some hope of a revival with ten minutes remaining, as Lauren Hamson forced the ball past Gwiazda from right in front of goal after a nice setup by Tesan, but it was too little late for the Whitecaps.
While their PCSL campaign is now over, the Prospects are not quite finished yet for the summer season. The team now heads off to San Diego, California, for the 28th annual Surf Cup, where they will compete in the elite Girls U-19 Super division against 15 of the top youth teams in the United States. The Prospects open play on Saturday, August 2, against the Pleasanton Rage from Northern California - a team that includes USA U-17 international Olivia Klei.
Whitecaps Prospects Women - starting line-up v Tri-Cities Xtreme
Shimone Slomowitz; Kelly Cook, Brienna Shaw, Carolyn Bell; Janine Frazao, Natalie Boyd, Tessa Meyer, Marika Posehn; Chelsea Buckland, Alicia Tesan, Nikki Wright