BY GARY KINGSTON
The Vancouver Whitecaps women are fit to be tied. And on Friday, they were tied in knots with the ball at their feet or head in scoring territory.
The goal-challenged W League squad drew 0-0 with the Los Angeles Legends at sun-splashed Swangard Stadium and at 0-0-4, with the the first three ties all ending 1-1, have matched the longest winless streak in club history.
"Incredibly frustrating today," said 'Caps head coach Alan Koch. "Our intensity was nowhere good enough. Incredibly disappointing to see that. We had to give them a kick in the butt at halftime.
"Having said that, we did create ample opportunities to score and we didn't put the ball in the back of the net."
Vancouver outshot Los Angeles, now 0-2-2 on the season, 16-9, but too often either missed wildly or shot right at the goalkeeper.
That's been the story of the season for the young squad. With national team veterans Christine Sinclair and Martina Franko and American Tiffany Milbrett, the leading scorer each of the previous two seasons, all in California with Women's Professional Soccer League teams, goals did figure to be hard to come by.
But the 'Caps collection of local college talent, with a sprinkling of homegrown players back for the summer from U.S. universities, has lacked confident touch in the scoring area.
"We need to have better control of the ball and make our build up better . . . to get better shots on goal," said striker Jodi-Ann Robinson, the 20-year-old national teamer who had four shots.
Koch, who also gives key minutes to teenagers Chelsea Stewart, Paige Adams, Nikki Wright and Monica Lam-Feist, said they may be young but "still played at a very, very high level.
"You've got to be feeling confident when you get the opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net and feeling nice and composed. And we certainly weren't composed on the pitch today."
Robinson, Lam-Feist and Amy Vermuelen all missed great chances in the second half when the Legends had their best chance. Erin Brunelle's header off a corner kick was cleared off the line when it rebounded off the shoulder of 'Caps defender Katie Thorlakson.
"That's my job being on the post," said Thorlakson. "I was just ready and hoping it did hit me and didn't go over my head because I'm pretty short."
As a former forward/midfielder who entered the season as the 'Caps active goal-scoring leader with 10, Thorlakson said it's extremely frustrating to see the club's lack of finish.
"We're making a lot of opportunities and it's still early in the season. We've got a long way to go."
Well, not exactly. The 'Caps have already played a third of their season and now head out on the road for three games in six days starting Thursday in Los Angeles.
That lack of composure that Koch talked about was clearly evident with Rachel Pelat in the first half. The SFU product twice sent the ball sailing way over the crossbar on gilt-edged chances from 12 yards out in the first 28 minutes.
Her misses were so sloppy that Koch immediately went to the subs bench. And before he could get Adams on in the 31st minute, Pelat completely whiffed from in tight on a ball lofted over the heads of the defence.
Seven minutes after she entered, Adams got under a ball from 22 yards out directly in front of goal and sent it way over the crossbar. Earlier in the half, Vermuelen, from a similar spot, blasted a shot right into the arms of goalkeeper Alicia Lugo.
Robinson, running miles up front again, also had her trouble finding the back of the net, though it was her head that let her down. In the 35th minute, while completely unmarked in the box, she headed a terrific cross off a free kick softly and harmlessly into the turf. Nine minutes later, she got more power on an Adams cross, but sent the ball just over the bar.
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