By Alan Douglas/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women are in Kelowna, BC, this weekend to battle for the Pacific Coast Soccer League's coveted Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup.
The annual competition features the PCSL Premier Division's top four teams in a single-match playoff format. The Whitecaps last won the trophy back in 2006.
The Prospects will face 2008 league champions and defending Challenge Cup holders Victoria Stars in Saturday's second semifinal. In the first semi, 2009 PCSL regular season champions Fraser Valley Action take on CMFSC Xtreme.
The Challenge Cup is named in honour of long-time friend of soccer Dave Fryatt. A member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, Fryatt's dedication to the sport spans seven decades, as he has worked at the local, provincial, and national level in the game. He was also a founding director of Vancouver 86ers (now Vancouver Whitecaps FC).
Undefeated Fraser Valley, who finished the regular season at 15W-0L-1D, are clearly the team to beat in the competition. The Action are led by tall and speedy striker Daniela Gerig, who finished as joint goalscoring leader with 19 goals. Fraser Valley's squad also includes former Whitecaps first-team players Melissa Mobilio and Lindsay Rohla.
The second-place Whitecaps are not far behind, however, and were the only side to get a result against Fraser Valley during the regular season. Vancouver, who finished at 12W-1L-3D, also set a league scoring record with 63 goals, which is an average of just under four goals a match. The 'Caps are led in attack by quicksilver forward Jenna Richardson, who had 19 goals as a rookie for a share of the league lead. Richardson just turned 17 earlier this month.
The Whitecaps also benefit from industrious midfielder Natalie Boyd, who recently got her first taste of USL W-League action when she was called up to play for Vancouver's first team last weekend. The 18-year-old made two appearances during the women's team's road trip to the US state of Colorado. Rock-solid Prospects goalkeeper Gurveen Clair was also added to the first team roster, but did not see action during the end-of-season trip.
Saturday's opponents in Victoria Stars finished their regular season in third place at 10W-3L-3D, with the Vancouver Island outfit looking to avenge a 4-0 defeat to the 'Caps two weeks ago. The Stars are led by 16-year-old Colombian striker Nahiomy Ortiz, who netted 10 goals during the season. Though she now lives in Canada, Ortiz played for her native Colombia at last year's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand. She is expected to get the call into the Colombian squad ahead of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
The winners of Saturday's semifinals will meet in the Challenge Cup final at Kelowna's Apple Bowl on Sunday morning.