By Alan Douglas/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women battled to a 1-1 draw against CMFSC Xtreme in Coquitlam, BC, on Saturday night. The match was the first of back-to-back meetings between the two sides in the Pacific Coast Soccer League.
Jenna Richardson scored the Whitecaps equalizer late in the first half. It was her league-leading 16th goal of the season, in what was a highly competitive match at Coquitlam Town Centre East Turf.
After two straight games of guest appearances by Whitecaps first-team goalkeepers, Gurveen Clair returned to the starting line-up. First-team player Brienna Shaw, however, was retained for this match, as she was reunited for the second straight game with Carolyn Bell - the two central defenders who were the backbone of the 2008 Prospects backline. Nikki Ambrose and Mikyla Kay both returned to the first XI at fullback, while young Nicole Setterlund started in midfield in a 4-3-3 formation. There was no Janine Frazao for this game, so Jenna Di Nunzio got the nod up front alongside Richardson and Alicia Tesan.
The Whitecaps had two good early chances a minute apart, as first Di Nunzio, then Richardson rolled their efforts inches wide of the right post.
It was the home side, however, that first found the net. On 20 minutes, Vancouver goalkeeper Clair came well out to challenge Michelle Francis, but the Xtreme player was able to send a pass wide for the ever-dangerous Sarah Boulton on the left, and she hit the empty net.
The goal seemed to give Coquitlam a surge of confidence, and they looked the better side for a time, but were unable to take advantage.
The Prospects soon started to rack up the chances. On 28 minutes, Richardson won a race for the ball in the Xtreme box, getting their ahead of goalkeeper Cassie Newbrook. From a very sharp angle on the left though, she hit the near post with her shot, while facing an empty net. A minute later, fullback Ambrose charged down the left and crossed for Tesan, whose 15-yard blast was right at Newbrook.
On 37 minutes, Tessa Meyer slipped a ball ahead to Richardson in the box, who squared it for Tesan. The striker's shot looked labeled for the top corner until Newbrook parried it away for a corner.
The equalizer came soon after. On 41 minutes, Meyer made a nice reverse pass to wrong-foot her marker, then fed Richardson breaking into the Xtreme box on the left, beating their offside trap. Newbrook got her fingertips to Richardson's hard and rising shot, with the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down, then out. Several Whitecaps shouted that the ball had crossed the goalline, and the assistant referee on that side agreed, signaling a goal which was given, despite protests from the home team.
It was 1-1 at halftime.
The second half was less eventful, with both teams battling hard, and not allowing their opponent much space.
On 55 minutes, a Richardson shot in the box was deflected, wrong-footing Newbrook, but the shot lacked sting and the Xtreme keeper was able to recover and claim possession of the ball.
Coquitlam enjoyed much of the possession, but their only scoring chances were a couple of tame efforts that went straight to Clair.
The Prospects started to apply pressure in the late stages, with the two best chances coming in time added on. First, substitute Jessica Hadden picked up the ball in the Xtreme box and whipped a hard curling shot just over the crossbar. Then in the closing seconds came a gilt-edged opportunity, with Richardson breaking in alone down the left. She cut inside, and tried to make space past the Xtreme keeper for the shot, but Newbrook stayed with her and sprawled to block the point-blank effort.
The draw puts the 'Caps record at 7W-1L-2D to remain in third place in the PCSL Premier Division standings, while CMFSC go to 3W-3L-2D, keeping them in fourth place - pending the results from other Saturday matches in the league.
These two clubs will have no rest, as they meet again on Sunday afternoon at Simon Fraser University. Kick off is set for 3:00 p.m. PDT.
Whitecaps Prospects Women
1.Gurveen Clair; 15.Nikki Ambrose, 23.Brienna Shaw, 16.Carolyn Bell, 20.Mikyla Kay; 12.Nicole Setterlund 4.Natalie Boyd, 19.Tessa Meyer; 10.Jenna Di Nunzio (18.Katie Turney 45', Jessica Hadden 85'), 22.Jenna Richardson, 5.Alicia Tesan (13.Michelle Godoy 45', 5.Alicia Tesan 71')