By Alan Douglas/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women claimed a 2-1 victory over CMFSC Xtreme in a hard-fought Pacific Coast Soccer League match at Simon Fraser University on Sunday afternoon.
Early goals by Kendra Williams and Jaclyn Sawicki proved to be enough for Jesse Symons' side, with the visitors from Coquitlam pulling a goal back late to make it an exciting finish at SFU Field #4.
This was the second game in as many days between these two PCSL Premier Division rivals, which meant bench strength would be an important factor. Symons made wholesale changes from Saturday's squad, giving several key players the day off, including forwards Jenna Richardson and Alicia Tesan, and midfielder Tessa Meyer. Striker Jessica Hadden got her first start of the season, joining Katie Turney up front in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Sawicki being the link player. Williams played in midfield alongside Natalie Boyd and Nicole Setterlund, while at centre back, Jennifer Castillo returned as a starter after missing the last five matches. In goal was Ariel Anderson, who played a full 90 minutes for the first time this season.
Just four minutes in, the visitors tested Anderson with a hard rising shot from former Prospects player Alanna Foster, which the 'Caps keeper held well.
On eight minutes, the home side took the lead, as Boyd sent a great pass over top of the Xtreme fullback to Williams breaking on the left. From a sharp angle, she fired it in off the far post for her second goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, it was 2-0. Hadden carried the ball into the box, and though she had two defenders on her, they obviously made the mistake of blinking, because that's how long it took the quick-footed young striker to dart between them. Her initial shot was blocked, but fell for Sawicki at the edge of the Coquitlam box. She first-timed it into the top right corner, giving the Xtreme goalkeeper no chance. It was Sawicki's fourth goal of the campaign.
The Whitecaps were enjoying the majority of the play and were giving up very little at the back, but both teams were battling for every ball, with good chances at a premium. Setterlund fired a hard shot wide on 25 minutes, while at the other end, Carlen Oates blasted one over the crossbar late in the half.
The Prospects led 2-0 at halftime.
Soon after the restart, Sawicki almost netted her second goal, as she picked up the ball in the box on the right, made space for a shot, and hit a hard rising blast, which Coquitlam goalkeeper Megan Price-Leibenzeder palmed high into the air. The ball dropped behind her and almost spun into the goal, but was cleared off the goalline by a defender.
With Coquitlam pushing forward, the 'Caps had several chances on the break. On 61 minutes, Michelle Godoy was in alone chasing a through ball, but Price-Leibenzeder came well out and slid to kick the ball clear just in time. Two minutes later, Maryse Reichgeld had a breakaway, but Price-Leibenzeder blocked her hard shot with her body.
On 76 minutes, Godoy went down in pain clutching her leg and had to be carried off the pitch. Among other things, the lengthy delay meant there would be a lot of time added on by the match referee.
Anderson had to be sharp as well, as on 88 minutes, the Whitecaps goalkeeper was out quickly to clear the ball just ahead of Michelle Francis. Seconds later at
the other end, Turney's high and hard shot was well stopped by Price-Leibenzeder.
The Xtreme pulled a goal back on 90 minutes, as a shot in the box from Lauren Lachlan hit the crossbar and bounced down, with Sarah Boulton the first player to react and head the ball over the goalline.
In time added on, the Prospects came as close as you can get to restoring the lead. Some good pressure ended with Boyd chasing a bouncing ball in on goal. She chipped it high over Price-Leibenzeder, and it looked like it was going in, but an Xtreme defender just barely managed to hook it off the goalline, thudding the ball off the underside of the crossbar! It dropped in front for Boyd, and the chance looked like a gimme, but the ball's high bounce made it awkward for her, and she hit her effort over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.
The visitors accepted the lifeline, and applied some good pressure in the closing seconds. Katie Lawrence had a free header following a corner kick, but Anderson made the stop. The whistle finally sounded soon after.
The Prospects improved to 8W-1L-2D, putting them in a tie for second place with Victoria Stars. CMFSC Xtreme drop to 3W-4L-2D.
Next up for the Prospects Women is a trip to Kelowna next weekend to face Okanagan Whitecaps on Saturday, June 27.
Whitecaps Prospects Women
0.Ariel Anderson; 15.Nikki Ambrose, 16.Carolyn Bell, 25.Jennifer Castillo, 7.Melissa Bowen (14.Sarah Pennington 62'); 11.Kendra Williams (8.Erin Uchacz 45'), 12.Nicole Setterlund, 4.Natalie Boyd; 6.Jaclyn Sawicki (10.Jenna Di Nunzio 64'), 18.Katie Turney (10.Jenna Di Nunzio 36'; 13.Michelle Godoy 45'), 2.Jessica Hadden (3.Maryse Reichgeld 44')