In the fourth edition of a five-part series looking back at Whitecaps FC's year in 2010, we review a fine season for the club's top women's teams.
In a bid to re-establish themselves as a top women's soccer club in North America, Vancouver Whitecaps FC made some important strides during the 2010 season.
After missing the playoffs in 2009, the 'Caps appointed Hubert Busby Jr. in the hopes of turning things around. As the sixth women's team head coach, it was the former goalkeeper's task to put the Blue and White back among the elite in the United Soccer Leagues W-League. His recruiting efforts saw him bring in several members of the Canadian women's national team program - a number of which helped Canada secure qualification for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup later in the year.
Busby's first season in charge was an impressive one. The 'Caps finished the regular season undefeated, recording six wins and four draws, before defeating two-time league champions Pali Blues in the W-League Western Conference playoff final at Swangard Stadium on July 24. Vancouver then defeated top-seeded Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues in the W-League semifinals before Buffalo Flash ended Whitecaps FC's quest for a third league title with a 3-1 win in the championship final on July 31.
Striker Melissa Tancredi finished the season as the women's team's leading scorer with five goals and one assist. She was named to both the 2010 W-League All-Western Conference Team and W-League All-League Team. Captain Martina Franko - who returned to Whitecaps FC in 2010 after a three-year hiatus - was also named to the All-Western Conference squad, as was the Canadian international trio of Robyn Gayle, Jodi-Ann Robinson, and Sophie Schmidt. Siobhan Chamberlain was solid in goal all season for the 'Caps, as the England international recorded a 1.00 goals-against average in eight regular season appearances.
The successes of 2010 were not just contained to the squad, as the women's team made the most of 'home advantage' by playing their W-League home matches in five different British Columbia communities. In partnership with the Girls Metro Soccer League (GMSL), the Whitecaps Women's Soccer Series drew average crowds of over 1,500 for 'Caps games in Coquitlam, Langley, Richmond, Burnaby, and Victoria last summer.
It was also another fine season for the club's Prospects Women's team in 2010, as they claimed the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) Premier Division title with a 16W-0L-0D record in the regular season. Though they were heavy favourites to repeat as Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup winners, the young 'Caps suffered a surprise 2-1 semifinal defeat to playoff tournament hosts Coquitlam Metro-Ford Xtreme on July 24.
With the Women's World Cup taking place in Germany next summer, the 2011 women's team season is sure to have a different feel, even though the desire will again be to win the W-League championship title in the New Year.