Vancouver Whitecaps FC women romped to a 5-0 win over Victoria Highlanders FC in an All-Canadian clash on Canada Day at Richmond's Minoru Park. Striker Sydney Leroux netted four goals for the 'Caps, who have yet to concede at home this season.
The win moves Vancouver four points up on Santa Clarita Blue Heat in the United Soccer Leagues W-League Western Conference standings, with those two teams set to clash in a pivotal match next Friday night in Penticton, BC.
Coach Hubert Busby Jr made two changes to the line-up from Wednesday's draw at Seattle Sounders women. Defender Lexi Marton returned to central defence after missing the Seattle trip due to illness. Up front, Carrie Patterson replaced Jen Stoltenberg in the starting XI.
Whitecaps FC jumped to an early lead. Just two minutes in, Marton played a long ball forward to Leroux, who got behind the Victoria defence and slotted it past Highlanders FC goalkeeper Stephanie Parker.
The early goal was a sign of things to come, as the 'Caps put on a clinic in possession soccer, passing the ball with authority. Leroux was the most frequent beneficiary, but Parker did not make things easy for Vancouver, as the Victoria keeper produced one spectacular save after another in the first half.
On nine minutes, Patterson crossed for Leroux who got a good shot away, but Parker got a hand to the ball and pushed it wide. A minute later, the Victoria keeper watched, as a looping 35-yard effort from 'Caps left fullback Keisha Wallin struck the crossbar.
On 17 minutes, Leroux weaved her way around the entire Victoria defence, but Parker produced a superb stop. Then on the half-hour mark, Parker made a diving save on Leroux's shot from the edge of the box.
On 40 minutes, captain Kelsey Hood played a good diagonal cross, which Leroux headed wide. Three minutes later saw a wild sequence, as Leroux ran a circle around her marker before firing a hard shot that Parker dove to stop. The ball was played back to Leroux, who again went for goal, and Parker again made a flying save to push it wide.
'Caps led 1-0 at the break after totally dominating the opening 45 minutes and out-shooting the visitors 13 to three.
It didn't take long after the restart for the home side to double the lead. On 49 minutes, Jenna Richardson fed Tiffany Weimer breaking into the box on the right, and while her shot was stopped by Parker, the ball looped high into the air and fell in front, where Leroux made sure it crossed the goal line.
The visitors' best chance came on 68 minutes, as Sarah Douglas on the right crossed to Victoria's top scorer Liz Hansen, but she powered a free header over the bar.
Substitute Stoltenberg had two good chances, blasting just over the bar just past the hour mark, then on 76 minutes, firing a hard low shot that Parker pushed wide with difficulty.
Whiteaps FC put the match out of reach a minute later, as Amy Vermeulen sent Leroux in on goal on the left, and she picked the bottom corner from a sharp angle. It marked the first hat-trick for the team since Christine Sinclair struck for three goals for the 'Caps on July 6, 2006.
Leroux was not done, though. On 82 minutes, Weimer's ball in front was deflected high and Leroux headed in. It was the first four-goal performance by a Vancouver player since Amber Allen accomplished the feat in an 11-0 away win over San Diego Gauchos on June 5, 2005.
Leroux credited her teammates for the great service throughout the match. "I think we played really well together," sghe told whitecapsfc.com. "We were connecting passes with good combination play. Everything kind of fell into place today."
The final goal came in time added on. Tina Romagnuolo's hard shot was stopped by Parker, but Alysha Bonnick, who had subbed in for Leroux moments earlier, fired in the rebound with virtually the last kick of the match.
Leroux's four goals doubled her total on the season and moved herself into Vancouver's scoring lead, and tied for second in the W-League overall.
At the other end, it was the fifth shutout in six starts for goalkepeer Jaclyn Dunnett.
Busby felt it was a good overall team performance, telling whitecapsfc.com, "the players came out and executed what we had discussed this week, and it was great to see us finish."
The win ups Vancouver's record to 8W-1L-2D, as the 'Caps now lead Santa Clarita by four points in the W-League Western Conference standings. The Blue Heat hold three games in hand, however, with a record of 7W-0L-2D. Victoria, meanwhile, remain winless at 0W-10L-1D.
Whitecaps FC continue their three-match home stand on Friday night, as they host Santa Clarita in a top-of-the-table clash in Penticton, BC. The match kicks off at Penticton's Kings Park at 7 p.m. PT. The game is part of the Whitecaps Women's Soccer Series presented by Kia - in partnership with the Girls Metro Soccer League - and is hosted by Penticton Pinnacle SC and the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association. Tickets for all home games are available online for just $12 at whitecapsfc.com/wtickets.
2' - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Lexi Marton)
49' - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Tiffany Weimer)
77' - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Amy Vermeulen)
82' - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Tiffany Weimer)
90'+ - VAN - Alysha Bonnick (Tina Romagnuolo)
Shots: Vancouver 23 - Victoria 8
Saves: Vancouver 2 - Victoria 8
Fouls: Vancouver 12 - Victoria 9
Corners: Vancouver 3 - Victoria 1
Offsides: Vancouver 2 - Victoria 1
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
35.Jaclyn Dunnett; 14.Keshia Wallin (34.Abigail Phillips 82'), 4.Lexi Marton, 3.Shannon Woeller, 15.Krista Kruse; 7.Tina Romagnuolo, 22.Kelsey Hood (32.Nicole Setterlund 80'), 8.Tiffany Weimer (11.Alysha Bonnick 88'); 17.Carrie Patterson (6.Amy Vermeulen 71'), 9.Sydney Leroux (10.Tseng Shu-O 86'), 21.Jenna Richardson (20.Jen Stoltenberg 59')
Subs not used: 29.Kristen Funk
Victoria Highlanders FC
1.Stephanie Parker; 15.Shayla Behrens (21.Mallory Hackett 82'), 20.Jenny Large, 25.Nellana Kurylo, 26.Rebecca Swan; 3.Janelle Smith (16.Jana Yates 82'), 12.Amelie Mercier (24.Nicole Stewart 40'), 13.Mariel Solsberg (14.Jackie Harrison 82'), 23.Keara Thompson; 7.Kendra Flock (10.Sarah Douglas 65'), 9.Liz Hansen (4.Nicole Bates-Eamer 71')
Subs not used: 32.Tanya Jones