With their respective division titles already locked up, Vancouver Whitecaps FC residency capped off a successful first season in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) with a win and a loss Sunday afternoon in Bellingham, Washington.
Midfielder Yassin Essa notched a hat-trick and Bryce Alderson added a pair of tallies as Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency defeated Arsenal FC U-17/18 6-2 at Whatcom Community College, while the U-16 ‘Caps fell 1-0 to Arsenal FC U-15/16 in the second half of the doubleheader.
Coming off a dominant 9-0 win over third-place Seattle Sounders FC Academy, the U-18 ‘Caps showed no signs of slowing down in their regular season finale.
After a scoreless opening 30 minutes, the ‘Caps drew first blood just after the half-hour mark when Essa took down a cross from the wing and found the back of the net with a strike from just inside the box.
To their credit, Arsenal responded with an equalizer against the run of play just two minutes later, but Essa scored a similar goal in the 38th minute to re-gain the lead for the Whitecaps.
Just before the break, Alderson made it 3-1 for the Blue and White after picking up a loose ball inside the area and completing a tidy finish with his weaker right foot.
Despite the two-goal advantage, the young ‘Caps didn’t sit on their lead in the second half.
Making his 23rd of a possible 25 appearances with the U-18 squad this season, midfielder Spencer DeBoice scored his seventh goal of the season in the 52nd minute with an unstoppable left-footed strike from outside the box.
Minutes later, Essa completed his hat-trick and gave the ‘Caps a 5-1 lead with his 18th marker of the season — second to only striker Caleb Clarke’s 24 goals.
Both teams exchanged goals in the final half hour as the ‘Caps cruised to a 6-2 victory.
“It’s always good to finish on a high,” Residency head coach Craig Dalrymple told whitecapsfc.com. “They’ve had a good season, and they showed their quality again today. Scoring six goals against anyone is a good feat. They’re going into the playoffs in good form, which is important.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency
Callum Irving; Declan Rodriguez, Daniel Statense, Jason van Blerk, Ben McKendry; Bryce Alderson, Alex Rowley, Yassin Essa (Ben Fisk ’63); Spencer DeBoice, Wesley Cain, Caleb Clarke (Carlos Patino ’60)
Looking to claim their seventh straight win, the U-16 ‘Caps did just about everything but score against an Arsenal side tied for third place in the USSDA West Conference, SoCal Division, but a victory just wasn’t in the cards.
“It was one of those games where it just seemed like we needed a little bit of luck,” Dalrymple said.
Unfortunately for the young ‘Caps, they didn’t get it.
Midfielder Marco Bustos hit the woodwork twice and striker Brody Huitema, who leads the ‘Caps with 20 goals this season, had his penalty attempt stymied — all in the first half, before Arsenal scored the lone goal of the match off a scrambled effort in the 66th minute.
“We asked the boys to put a performance in today and hopefully the result would take care of itself. And the performance was good,” Dalrymple said. “We limited them to very few opportunities. The performance was where it needs to be. If they keep performing like that in the playoffs, the results will come.”
The USSDA playoffs get underway the week of June 25 in Frisco, Texas. Each team will be placed in a group of four, with the winner advancing to the USSDA Final Eight.
“Both teams should expect to be competitive in every game they play, regardless of the competition,” Dalrymple said. “It’s the top teams in the country, and we’ve proven that we’re one of those.”
Vancouver Whitecaps U-16 Residency
Nolan Wirth; Jordan Haynes, Sam Adekugbe, Jackson Farmer, Liam Elbourne (Matthew van der Eyden ’59); Marco Bustos, Mitchell Piraux, Matthew Chow, Sebastian Cabrera (Khalifala Konneh ’56), Titouan Chopin (Parker Ellis ’52); Brody Huitema