Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite ended the Metro Women's Soccer League (MWSL) season with a 3-3 draw on Saturday at Simon Fraser University.
The team played out a 3-3 result with Columbus FC, on a briskly cold afternoon at Terry Fox Field, as a result of a goal bonanza in the final 10 minutes.
With the clock ticking down and 80 minutes played, the score was deadlocked at zero before all six goals came in a frantic final 10.
“We were a little flat today I thought,” said Jesse Symons, Whitecaps FC Girls Elite head coach. “We kept the ball well, but we didn’t really create many opportunities and we can definitely look at that and discuss that going forward over the next few weeks.”
Despite the scoring stalemate, the final whistle brought to an end a very successful campaign for the 'Caps in the MWSL, with the team finishing on top of the standings.
“Obviously there were no goals 'til the 81st minute and then to have six in the last 10 is something you don’t see very often everyday,” said Symons. “It was disappointing to lose a goal in stoppage time.”
Columbus indeed took the lead 81 minutes in, only for the Whitecaps to then go up the field immediately from kickoff and equalize.
Chelsea Harkins darted into the left corner of the penalty box and crossed the ball low for Margaret Hadley to bundle it home from close range.
Two minutes later, the home side made it 2-1 as Emma Fletcher played the ball up the middle of the Columbus defence for Summer Clarke who stroked the ball over the advancing 'keeper and into the net, amidst offside complaints from the visiting side.
However Columbus didn’t let that fool them and equalized straight away, firing the ball home from pointblank territory from a corner kick.
The goal trend continued in the 88th minute. Clarke was able to score a similar goal to her first, after being played through by Nikki Turney this time, and finishing low into the right corner of the goal.
The 'Caps couldn’t see the 3-2 lead home though and conceded in stoppage time after a cross came in from the right and an inexplicable defensive header ended up in the back of the net, allowing the Columbus attacker a tap in to make the final score 3-3.
“Hopefully allowing a goal in stoppage time is something we can learn from and take care of the lead once we got it in the final five minutes of the match,” said Symons.
The Girls Elite squad will now head into cup play with the curtain falling on the MWSL regular season.
The coach reflected on the league part of the season.
“Obviously this is only one component of our program. The Metro Women’s Soccer League has been a fantastic league, there’s good opposition and it’s good for our youth players to play against senior players. We’ll definitely look ahead now to the league cup starting next week.”
It’s obviously a good to start our inaugural season with winning the league and being the top team in the standings, so hopefully we build on that and have that confidence going into the league cup and compete well and take care of leads once we get them.”
There’s a saying in soccer that you are at your most vulnerable once you’ve scored a goal and that was the case in this game.
“A goal’s a goal and it’s always fun to score in a game like this, especially when the league was on the line,” said Hadley. “It feels good to put the ball in the net.”
“I really like playing anywhere but up front is my favourite because I love scoring goals and making a difference for your team.”
Hadley has recently joined up with the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite squad after previously playing in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League with Burnaby-based Mountain FC.
“Immediately when I came you could tell that the training sessions and everything is so much quicker with the speed of play and playing with players that are a year older than us,” she said.
“Some of them have been with the national team, playing in the World Cup, so we always have to push ourselves 100 per cent. It’s a big step up but it’s really fun.”
The scoreline reflected the evenness of the game, with both teams eager to close down quickly in the midfield and not give opposition players time on the ball.