Vancouver Whitecaps FC women closed out their 2011 United Soccer Leagues W-League campaign with a win, as they downed Seattle Sounders women 2-1 in the league's third-place match Sunday afternoon in Tukwila, Washington. Jen Stoltenberg and Kaylyn Kyle scored second-half goals for the 'Caps, who came from behind against their I-5 rivals.
Veteran defender Martina Franko got the start to become the Whitecaps FC all-time leader in games played with 70, surpassing Andrea Neil. Also at central defence, Lexi Marton returned to the starting XI after missing Friday's semifinal through suspension. Captain Kelsey Hood moved back into midfield, alongside Tiffany Weimer and Kyle, while versatile Tina Romagnuolo started up front.
Vancouver had the better of the early going, but it was Seattle who scored first. On 21 minutes, Jocelyn Charette fired the ball in front, and while Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Jaclyn Dunnett got a piece of it, she could not keep it from crossing the goal line.
Just past the half-hour mark, Weimer set up Amy Vermeulen 15 yards in front, but Sounders goalkeeper Elizabeth Ruiz was well positioned to make the stop.
On 36 minutes, Charette tested Dunnett with a close-range header, which the Vancouver keeper did well to hold. Straight back the other way, Romagnuolo blasted a 25-yarder, which Ruiz was equal to.
Seattle led 1-0 at the break.
The 'Caps came out firing in the second half and equalized on 47 minutes. Substitute Stoltenberg, just into the match, stole the ball in midfield on the left, cut past a couple of defenders, then beat Ruiz with a hard 18-yard shot inside the near post. It was Stoltenberg's second goal of the season.
Seattle almost replied immediately, as Justina MacDowell's chip shot was superbly tipped over the crossbar by Dunnett. From the ensuing corner kick, the ball bounced around in front in a scramble, and was eventually cleared off the goal line.
Vancouver, though, were enjoying the majority of play, and applying good pressure to the Seattle defence. Ruiz was tested on 57 minutes by Alysha Bonnick and a minute later by a first-time shot from Weimer.
At the other end, Seattle had a goal disallowed for offside on 63 minutes, as MacDowell first-timed it in from six yards, but the flag was up.
The 'Caps got the winner on 65 minutes, as Leroux led a quick break, crossing from the left to the right on a spectacular solo run. She cut the ball back and it ran to Kyle, who wired a shot into the bottom left corner. It was the Canadian international's second goal in three games since re-joining the club.
"I love being a Vancouver Whitecaps FC player, and for them to bring me in for three games really means a lot to me," Kyle told whitecapsfc.com after the match. She also thanked the fans for all their support, and added, "Hopefully, I'll be back next season."
Both teams continued to push for goals, and came very close. On 74 minutes, Leroux slipped it wide to Bonnick unmarked in the box, and she thundered a shot off the crossbar.
With ten minutes remaining, Seattle's Mary Hill sent in a diagonal cross to Mily Reiter in front, but she smashed it off the underside of the bar, and the ball stayed out.
The woodwork was struck again on 86 minutes, as Leroux's free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box got past Seattle's wall, but came back off the far post.
The final chance fell to Sounders defender Jordan Salisbury with a minute remaining, but her chip shot did not dip in time and landed on the roof of the net.
The entertaining and hard-fought match ended with Vancouver taking third-place honours, as the 'Caps finished the season on a positive note.
Coach Hubert Busby Jr. felt it was a good season overall, telling whitecapsff.com, "Our goal and ambition is to be playing for the championship each year, but unfortunately we fell a game short. All things considered, it was a very productive year. We'll learn a lot from this season and look to grow and come back to the finals next season."
21' - SEA - Jocelyn Charette
47' - VAN - Jen Stoltenberg
65' – VAN - Kaylyn Kyle (Sydney Leroux)
Shots: Vancouver 14 - Seattle 9
Saves: Vancouver 2 - Seattle 4
Fouls: Vancouver 6 - Seattle 4
Corners: Vancouver 6 - Seattle 4
Offsides: Vancouver 3 - Seattle 2
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
35.Jaclyn Dunnett; 14.Keshia Wallin, 19.Martina Franko, 4.Lexi Marton, 15.Krista Kruse; 22.Kelsey Hood, 8.Tiffany Weimer (21.Jenna Richardson 87'), 88.Kaylyn Kyle; 7.Tina Romagnuolo (20.Jen Stoltenberg 45'), 9.Sydney Leroux (10.Tseng Shu-O 90'), 6.Amy Vermeulen (11.Alysha Bonnick 45')
Subs not used: 1.Erin McNulty, 17.Carrie Patterson
0.Elizabeth Ruiz; 6.Elizabeth Drollinger, 16.Jordan Salisbury, 18.Nance Hill, 5.Mary Hill; 2.Caroline Brawner (7.Justi Baumgardt 60', 14.Mily Reiter 69'), 3.Megan Miller (19.Kara Kuttler 55'), 8.Jane Mitchell; 10.Lyndsey Patterson, 4.Justina MacDowell, 11.Jocelyn Charette (9.Tafara Pulse 55')
Subs not used: 00.Kara Merfeld, 1.Maidson Goverde