By Brandon Timko/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Men lost a hard-fought 4-3 battle to Vancouver Thunderbirds in an exciting Pacific Coast Soccer League match at UBC's Thunderbird Park on Friday night.
A brilliant second-half strike from Sebastian Crema gave the Thunderbirds their third win of the season. Ben Hemphill, Blair Robertson, and Ryan Reynolds also had goals for the home side, while two goals by Gavin Barrett and an Ashley Ankiewicz header produced the scoring for the visiting Whitecaps.
The Thunderbirds got off to a quick start just four minutes in when a shot by Crema was spilled by 'Caps goalkeeper Evan Lowther - thus allowing Reynolds to poke home the rebound for an early 1-0 lead.
The home side looked to increase their lead on 15 minutes when a Tyson Keam corner was flicked on to Steve Deblasio, but his header bounced wide of the target. A minute later, Reynolds was sent in on a breakaway, but his shot went right into the arms of Lowther.
The Thunderbirds managed to increase their lead on 36 minutes when a quick free kick was passed to Robertson, who promptly fired a shot into the upper corner of the Prospects goal for a 2-0 lead.
The young 'Caps responded before halftime, with Barrett firing a low shot past Thunderbirds goalkeeper Elliott Usher from the top of the box to get Bart Choufour's side on the scoresheet at 2-1.
The home side were keen to regain their two-goal cushion after the break, with Deblasio sending a low shot towards goal, but Lowther came up with a fine diving save. However, the Thunderbirds scored on the ensuing corner, as former Prospects player Hemphill headed in off the crossbar for a 3-1 Thunderbirds lead.
The Prospects looked to get back into the match on 57 minutes when a hard free kick from Whitecaps Residency player Nolan Moore was tipped over the crossbar by Usher.
The Whitecaps would net a goal three minutes later. A long free kick by Erik Hacker was met by Ankiewicz, who managed to get a header over the Thunderbirds 'keeper and pull Choufour’s squad back to within a goal at 3-2.
The Thunderbirds looked to regain the momentum on 70 minutes, as a Crema cross was headed wide by a diving Brandon Ho. They would regret missing that opportunity two minutes later, as a beautiful passing sequence by the young 'Caps led to a Barrett breakaway, which he converted to level the match at 3-3.
The pace of the match picked up at this stage, with each team having scoring chances. Barrett was in on goal again on 76 minutes, but was unable to get a good shot off. Seconds later, Deblasio was sent in on goal for the home team, but fired his shot well over the crossbar.
The final goal came with ten minutes remaining when Deblasio sent a ball into the path of Crema, who did well to flick the ball over the defender’s head before firing a beautiful shot into the top corner to give the Thunderbirds a 4-3 win.
Despite the setback, Choufour remained in an optimistic mood. "Obviously, you always want to get a result, and it looked like we were going to get a point," he told whitecapsfc.com. "But I thought it was a really good game by our boys."
The Prospects Men's next PCSL Premier Division match is Tuesday night against Surrey United at Cloverdale Athletic Park. Kick off is at 7:30 p.m. PDT.
Whitecaps Prospects Men
Evan Lowther; Rhys Volkenant (Jerome Lou 65’), Paul Bahia, Ashley Ankiewicz, Nolan Moore, Kyle Knees, Ruben Casablanca (Carlos Del Aguila 88’), Bryan Cha (Cameron Parkes 45’), Erik Hacker, Riley Newport, Gavin Barrett
Elliott Usher; Ben Hunt (Brandon Ho 45’), Tyson Keam, Jason Gill (Julio Alveraz 65’), Blair Robertson, Ben Hemphill, Marco Visintin (Scott Barling 45’), Sebastian Crema, Steve Deblasio, Devin Gunenc, Ryan Reynolds