Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Prospects teams advanced to the semifinals after impressive performances during Day Two of San Diego Surf Cup XXIX on Sunday.
Both the U-18 Boys and Girls teams needed penalties in the quarterfinals to reach Monday's semifinals.
Day One reportClick here for Surf Cup results and standings
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls 2 - Real Colorado National 1
The U-18 Girls came into the match needing to score just one goal to secure first place in their group and they did not disappoint. Sustained pressure in the first half ended with Kendra Williams finishing off a cross from Melissa Bowen on 29 minutes.
Real Colorado came out quickly in the second half and were rewarded with a goal on two minutes after the break.
However, the Whitecaps did not back down and continued to keep possession, while making Real Colorado chase them all over the pitch. On 48 minutes, Jenna Di Nunzio crossed the ball in from the left-hand side and found Jaclyn Sawicki. Sawicki went by a Real Colorado defender at the top of the box before placing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal to give the ‘Caps a 2-1 lead.
The Prospects kept Real Colorado on their heels for the remainder of the match and almost had a third goal off of a Mikyla Kay free kick, which was flicked on by Erin Uchacz to Kendra Williams. Williams headed the ball towards the far right post, but the Real Colorado goalkeeper made a full diving save to keep the ball out of the net.
The win guaranteed the Whitecaps a first-place finish in Bracket C and a quarterfinal match-up versus San Diego Surf White from California South.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls 1 - San Diego Surf White 0 - (3-2 win on penalties)
On Sunday evening, and in perfect playing conditions, the Whitecaps met the two-time defending Surf Cup champions and the 2007 US national champions in San Diego Surf White.
Tactically, the Surf decided to drop down and defend in their half, allowing the Whitecaps to have most of the possession The best chances of the first half came in succeeding plays.
A free kick on the edge of the right penalty area by Natalie Boyd found Tessa Meyer at the back post. The Trinity Western University product headed the ball towards goal, but only to be denied by the Surf goalkeeper, who was able to push the ball over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner, Meyer’s volley from 10 yards out went over the crossbar as well. It was 0-0 at the break.
The second half saw more of the same, with chances for the Whitecaps coming on 31 minutes. Natalie Boyd took a quick free kick in behind the back four of the Surf to an open up Nicole Setterlund. Setterlund’s shot went just wide of the left post.
On 43 minutes, a Nikki Ambrose cross found Katie Turney. Unfortunately, Turney mis-fired and the ball went straight into the keeper hands. The 'Caps continued to press for the opening goal, but it was the Surf that had the last quality opportunity. A cross from the right found an unmarked player six yards from goal, but her header went just over the crossbar.
The match would be decided by penalties.
Janine Frazao took the first shot to the right of the keeper and was saved - 0-0. Surf then scored on their first shot for 0-1. Katie Turney answered with a shot into the top right corner for 1-1. The Surf then hit the outside of the post and missed, but Alicia Tesan's shot to the right of the keeper was saved at 1-1. Surf player scored for 2-1, but Carolyn Bell shot into the top right-hand corner and off the underside of the crossbar for 2-2. Gurveen Clair then makes a diving save to her right to keep the ball out at 2-2. Kendra Williams finds the top left corner for 3-2 'Caps. Clair then makes a full outstretched diving save to her left and pushes the ball around the post, as the Whitecaps win 3-2 on penalties.
On Monday morning, the U-18 Girls will meet So Cal Blues Bobak in the semifinals.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Boys 2 - FC San Diego B91 Gold 1
The last group game for the Whitecaps U-18 Boys was against FC San Diego B91 Gold, who were California South State Cup finalists. In what was a must-win match for the young 'Caps, head coach Bart Choufour and coaching staff took full advantage of scouting the San Diego club on Saturday and decided to counter their 3-5-2 formation with an attacking 4-3-3 formation in order to exploit the room given up on the flanks.
The tactical set up seemed to work right from the onset as both Jordan Whitehead and Bryan Cha got behind the San Diego defence on a number of occasions. After 14 minutes, it was Whitehead again that got behind the defence after Ashley Ankiewicz put him through on the right after a great run through the middle. Whitehead dribbled inside before finding a streaking Riley Newport with a great pass, which Newport clinically finished for 1-0.
As has happened too often in this tournament, the ‘Caps then gave a goal back two minutes later when a square pass got picked out by the opponent’s striker and left goalkeeper Matt Robinson no chance on a shot that went in off the post for 1-1.
The rest of the half was evenly played, as the teams went into the break level at 1-1. However, for the first time in the tournament, the Whitecaps would have the strong wind at their backs during the second half.
After the restart, the 'Caps suffocated San Diego with a combination of high pressure and quick one and two-touch passing. This forced the home side into playing the long ball, which was well dealt with by the Whitecaps defence.
After a number of chances, it was Avin Sidhu midway through the half who dribbled the ball inside from his right fullback position and slipped the ball to an open Carlos Del Aguila. Del Aguila penetrated the opponent’s 18-yard box, kept his composure, and passed the ball through to Nolan Moore. Moore made no mistake with his close-range finish, as he made it 2-1 Whitecaps.
Without giving up any real chances in the remaining time left in the contest, the 'Caps clinched a berth in the quarterfinals, where they will face Sereno SC 92 White from Arizona later on Sunday.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Boys 1 - Sereno SC 92 White 0 (3-0 win on penalties)
Having finished second in Bracket D, the ‘Caps now had to play the group winner from Bracket A, with only two hours break in between both of Sunday's matches.
Despite the short time between games, it was clear from the kickoff that this Whitecaps team was on a mission, as they played their best game of the tournament thus far.
The passing and movement was superb, and it was Sereno that was constantly chasing the ball. Without giving up a chance in the first half and creating numerous chances themselves, the ;Caps still had to settle for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime.
In the second half, the Whitecaps continued their fine display of high tempo soccer, creating terrific chances for Bryan Cha. In fact, the Sereno goalkeeper made full stretch saves off great shots by Cha, Curtis Helm, Jerome Lou, and Riley Newport.
The best chance of the match came with 10 minutes remaining from a corner. The ball fell to Helm, and on his second attempt, he hit the ball hard from eight yards out, but only to see a Sereno defender save it with his hands. Unfortunately, the hand ball was missed by the match referee. It meant the Whitecaps had to go to the dreaded penalty kicks to decide the outcome.
This was the time for goalkeeper Evan Lowther to shine, and he appeared in the zone. He made two magnificent stops, while another Sereno spot kick went over the crossbar. With converted penalties by Cha, Newport, and Adam Staschuk, the Whitecaps advanced to the Surf Cup semifinals, where they will face Pachuca USA Internationals from Maryland on Monday.