VICTORIA, BC - Second half goals from Margaret Hadley and Emma Fletcher led Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite to a 2-0 win over the Peninsula Co-op Highlanders in Victoria on Sunday, earning the team a spot in the the Metro Women's Soccer League (MWSL) Cup final in their first season in the league.
The 'Caps will now play Surrey United in the MWSL Cup final on Sunday, March 24 at Hugh Boyd High School in Richmond. Kickoff will be at 3 p.m. PT.
Facing their biggest match of the MWSL season, head coach Jesse Symons saw his young squad maintain some good spells of possession in the first half. Fletcher saw a corner from Chelsea Harkins land at her feet only to see it cleared off the line. Seina Kashima found the rebound, but volleyed over the bar.
Later in the half, Fletcher and Harkins combined again for a quick one-two passing play on the right side before Harkins just missed the far post as the teams went into halftime knotted at 0-0.
The 'Caps came out of the break looking an energized side and started to press the Highlanders deep in their own end.
On 51 minutes Vancouver nearly opened the scoring when good build-up play saw Fletcher backheel a pass to Harkins who then sent a shot destined for the back post, but the goalkeeper made a good save to push it out for a corner.
The Blue and White were finally rewarded on 71 minutes with a patented penetrating pass from Sam Dion cutting through the Highlanders defence onto Hadley who took one touch and placed it past the 'keeper and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The 'Caps stayed inspired and kept pushing players forward. That attacking ambition paid off on 77 minutes with Rachel Jones playing a looping pass to Fletcher, who controlled the ball out of the air with her back to goal, spun a defender, and struck a shot well into the corner.
The Highlanders responded with their best chance on a cross that found the head of Maryse Reichgeld (a graduate of the 'Caps Girls Elite program who is now playing at the University of Victoria), but her header was well saved by Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Julia McDonald.
Symons squad kept strong possession for the last minutes of the match to wrap-up their 2-0 victory and book a place in the MWSL Cup finals.
Whitecaps FC Girls Elite lineup
Julia McDonald; Chelsea Harkins, Aman Shergill, Carley Radomski, Rachel Jones, Sam Dion, Jasmine Mander (Sam Donald 45'), Emma Fletcher, Jasmin Dhanda (Sessen Stevens 24') (Margaret Hadley 61'), Reetu Johal (Simmrin Dhaliwal 45'), Monika Levarsky (Seina Kashima 24')