In a clash of two undefeated sides, Vancouver Whitecaps FC women suffered a 5-2 defeat away to Santa Clarita Blue Heat in Southern California on Sunday afternoon. It was Vancouver's third match in five days on the road, and their first regular season loss in United Soccer Leagues W-League action since 2009, snapping a 15-match run.
With fatigue a concern for this match, Coach Hubert Busby Jr. continued to rotate his players. Tina Romagnuolo dropped to fullback in place of Erica Campanelli, Sydney Leroux started in midfield, while Jen Stoltenberg and Carrie Patterson got the nod up front.
After a quiet start, the match exploded to life on 20 minutes, as Santa Clarita midfielder Edite Fernandes put the ball past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Kristen Funk.
The Heat quickly restored the lead with two goals in four minutes around the half-hour mark. First Liz Franco scored, then Fernandes found the net with her second of the afternoon off a set play. All three of the home side's goals to this point were set up by midfielder Stacey Rodwell.
On 36 minutes, defender Lexi Marton was charged with a foul in the box and a penalty was awarded. Alba Mendez stepped to the spot and converted to give the home side a 4-1 lead.
Whitecaps FC pulled a goal back with a penalty of their own four minutes later. Stoltenberg was hauled down in the box for the call, and Weimer did the honours, scoring her league-leading sixth goal of the season to make it 4-2.
Hopes of a 'Caps comeback ended on 61 minutes, as Ann Marie Tangorra found the net to make it a 5-2 final.
Sunday's defeat drops Whitecaps FC's record to 4W-1L-1D, while Santa Clarita improve to 4W-0L-1D. That puts the Blue Heat level on points with Vancouver atop the W-League Western Conference standings, but with a game in hand.
Coach Busby reflected on the disappointing result, saying that the team will need to work on its defensive shape when they get back to Vancouver and resume training. "We've gone away from some of the things that made us very successful, which is being very solid defensively," he told whitecapsfc.com. "That's not just down to defenders, but collectively as a group. So we need to make sure we get back to the basics."
Whitecaps FC women return home to face Los Angeles Strikers next Friday night at Surrey's Newton Athletic Park in a rescheduled start time of 8 p.m. PT. The match is part of the Whitecaps Women's Soccer Series presented by Kia - in partnership with the Girls Metro Soccer League, and is being hosted by Surrey FC Pegasus. Tickets for all home games are available online at www.whitecapsfc.com/wtickets.
20' - SC - Edite Fernandes (Stacey Rodwell)
23' - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Caroline Patterson)
28' - SC - Liz Franco (Stacey Rodwell)
32' - SC - Edite Fernandes (Stacey Rodwell)
36' - SC - Alba Mendez (penalty)
40' - VAN - Tiffany Weimer (penalty)
61' - SC - Ann Marie Tangorra (Edite Fernandes)
Shots: Vancouver 9 - Santa Clarita 11
Saves: Vancouver 3 - Santa Clarita 5
Fouls: Vancouver 12 - Santa Clarita 8
Offsides: Vancouver 1 - Santa Clarita 3
Corners: Vancouver 4 - Santa Clarita 2
36' - VAN - Lexi Marton
55' - VAN - Amber Brooks
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
29.Kristen Funk (1.Jaclyn Dunnett 78'); 15.Krista Kruse (25.Ciara McCormack 45'), 3.Shannon Woeller (16.Julie Armstrong 78'), 4.Lexi Marton, 7.Tina Romagnuolo; 8.Tiffany Weimer (10.Tseng Shu-O 86'), 9.Sydney Leroux, 22.Kelsey Hood, 23.Amber Brooks (30.Ranee Premji 56'); 20.Jen Stoltenberg, 17.Carrie Patterson (11.Alysha Bonnick 45')
Subs not used: 2.Erica Campanelli
Santa Clarita Blue Heat
1.Cynthia Jacobo; 2.Kayla Kret, 12.Brielle Slipicoff, 13.Kendall VanDine, 17.Sydney Vermillion (14.Madison VanDine 45'), 25.Francesca Williams; 7.Stacey Rodwell (16.Shasta Fisher 65'), 18.Edite Fernandes (15.Marky Boyce 75'), 29.Alba Mendez (9.Melissa Fernandez 45'); 24.Hannah Beard (31.Laura Dodd 83'), 20.Liz Franco (26.Ann Marie Tangorra 54')
Subs not used: 30.Anjuli Ladron DeGuevara