By Alan Douglas/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women closed out their Pacific Coast Soccer League regular season campaign with a convincing 4-0 home win over defending league champions Victoria Stars on Sunday afternoon.
Alicia Tesan netted the first-half winner, while quick goals just after the interval by Nicole Setterlund and Natalie Boyd sealed the win for the Prospects at Simon Fraser University's Terry Fox Field. Jaclyn Sawicki added the icing on the cake in time added on, while Gurveen Clair recorded the clean sheet in the Whitecaps goal.
The Prospects finished the season scoring 63 goals in 16 matches - the most by any PCSL Premier Division women's team in league history. This broke the old mark of 58 set by Vancouver Explorers in 2000. The 'Caps goal differential of plus-50 also set a league record.
Assistant coach Alan Churchard made three changes from Saturday's line-up that beat NSGSC Eagles at SFU. Jessica Hadden joined Katie Turney and Tesan up front in a 4-3-3 formation, while Nikki Ambrose and Melissa Bowen started at fullback.
With clouds and a cool breeze settling over Burnaby Mountain, the game took some time to heat up. With play even, the visitors had a couple of early chances, but Moira Hood volleyed well over the crossbar from 20 yards on both occasions.
At the quarter-hour mark, Boyd sent Tesan racing in on goal, and though the speedy striker rounded Stars goalkeeper Steph Parker, Victoria defender Caitlin Milloy did well to shoulder her off the ball and break up the play.
On 28 minutes, 'Caps defender Carolyn Bell played a superb long ball for Turney to run onto, but she blasted her shot high and wide.
The Whitecaps then opened scoring on 31 minutes. Turney won the ball 30 yards out and played it ahead for Tesan, who got behind the last Stars defender with a burst of speed. She then finished nicely with a shot over the sprawling keeper for 1-0. It was Tesan's fourth of the season, and third in as many games.
Near the end of the half, Boyd and Tessa Meyer played a nice one-two, with Meyer's return ball giving Boyd a sight of goal from the edge of the Victoria area. However, Parker stopped Boyd's low shot at the far post.
The Whitecaps led 1-0 at halftime, having had most of the chances. The lead was anything but comfortable though, with Victoria looking a very capable side.
The home side came out buzzing in the second half. Just a minute after the restart, powerful central defender Erin Uchachz took the opportunity to charge up the middle into space, then hit a good hard shot, which Parker did very well to push wide.
Vancouver doubled their lead following the ensuing corner kick. Tesan got the ball on the right, and her cross was neatly flicked on by Jenna Richardson to Setterlund to fire home on 47 minutes. It was the young midfielder's fourth goal of the season.
Two minutes later, Parker had to be quick to come out and stop Tesan, who was charging up the middle.
On 50 minutes, the Prospects made it 3-0. A half-clearance by Victoria was picked off by Boyd 27 yards out, and she hit a hard dipping shot that went over Parker and in for her second goal of the season.
On 68 minutes, Tesan showed great pace and determination to win a race for a through ball, when her defender seemed to have her beat. Her shot needed a good save from Stars substitute goalkeeper Corey Gros, who had entered the match minutes earlier.
Victoria's best chance of the day came a minute later, as Sarah Cameron headed wide from a good position following a Victoria corner kick.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, Gros made another good stop to hold a hard shot from Sawicki after a weaving run across the top of the area by the Whitecaps forward.
On 83 minutes, Clair made her best save of the match, as she gathered a hard 30-yard free shot by Sarah Rhodes. However, it was Victoria's Gros who was definitely the busier keeper, and in the closing minutes, she stopped a good shot from Boyd after a nice set-up by Richardson before stopping Setterlund's low shot moments later.
Gros was finally beaten in time added on. Richardson did well to win a throw-in deep on the right. She played it quickly for Setterlund, who relayed it to Sawicki just inside the Stars box. Her hard low shot eluded the Victoria keeper to make it a 4-0 final.
The Whitecaps finish the season at 12W-1L-3D, and currently sit in first place, though Fraser Valley Action are expected to pass them with their games in hand. However, the Prospects have secured a playoff spot for the coveted Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup, which takes place the weekend of July 25 to 26 in Kelowna, BC.
Whitecaps Prospects Women
1.Gurveen Clair; 7.Melissa Bowen 16.Carolyn Bell, 8.Erin Uchacz, 15.Nikki Ambrose; 11.Kendra Williams (12.Nicole Setterlund 45'), 4.Natalie Boyd, 19.Tessa Meyer; 18.Katie Turney (22.Jenna Richardson 36'), 5.Alicia Tesan (3.Maryse Reichgeld 72'), 2.Jessica Hadden (6.Jaclyn Sawicki 36')