TUKWILA, Wash. – In a specially organized exhibition match against the club's long-time Cascadia rivals, Vancouver Whitecaps FC acquitted themselves exceptionally well and played to a 1-1 draw against Seattle Sounders Women on Friday night at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. The match was the 41st in the storied history between the two clubs.
The 'Caps roster was based mostly on the club's U-18 Girls Elite squad, with a few guest players and alumnae mixed in to round out the roster. The youth on the pitch for Vancouver and the inexperience between new teammates for Seattle led to a scoreless first half.
Seattle had a chance in the 34th minute as Brigit Reder found some space high in the penalty area, but her powerful shot foot sailed wide of the far post.
Vancouvergot their first shot off in the 36th minute when midfielder Jasmin Dhanda hit a spinning ball hard on goal. Goalkeeper Erin McNulty - a Whitecaps FC women's alum - did well on her first save of the evening to deny the bottom corner effort.
'Caps defender Nicole Steward faced plenty of pressure throughout the night, but she was able to defend repeated chances from the Sounders Women on the right side of the Vancouver defence. Her effort along with others helped preserve a first half shutout.
As the second half got under way, both sides were able to continue some of the momentum they found near the end of the first half.
In the 68th minute Whitecaps FC pushed forward and found their best chance of the match when Summer Clarke received a through ball into the box. Goalkeeper Megan Kufeld, who had subbed into the match, made a perfect play on the ball as she sprinted out to meet the run with her foot just before Clarke could put the ball on goal.
As play opened up, it seemed impossible that the game would end scoreless.
In the 87th minute, the Sounders Lindsay Elston pulled the ball down in front at the edge of the box. She touched it away from defenders and to open up space, and fired a shot that was saved by 'Caps goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek, making a guest appearance on the young team.
Vancouver retaliated with a chance of their own to steal the match when a shot by substitute Chelsea Harkins just missed finding the far post after it went by Kufeld.
The two best chances of the match came in extra time for the Sounders. A lobbed pass to the left edge of the box found Emily Hurd. The winger played a well weighted ball to the back post where Elston was unmarked. The usually clinical finisher volleyed over and wide of the gaping net.
In the 94th minute, the Sounders Women worked a ball to the front of the net where Hurd put a shot that was well saved by Vancouver's goalkeeper. Hurd had a second chance to punch the ball home but sent her effort at the 'keeper for another save to earn the draw.
In the end, the young 'Caps held on for a valiant 0-0 draw against their elder counterparts.
Though a few thousand miles away in Morgantown, West Virginia with Canada's national EXCELeration program, Girls Elite head coach Jesse Symons expressed pride in his young team's resolve.
"The team kept good ball possession and showed great maturity thoughout the match to limit Seattle to half chances around the box," said Symons. "This group has continued to take on every challenge presented to them, so I'm very proud of them."
Seattle Sounders Women
Erin McNulty (Megan Kufeld); M'Ily Reiter, Elizabeth Farrell, Brigit Reder, Allie Beahan (Tafara Pulse), Emily Hurd, Sara Campbell, Lindsay Elston, Elizabeth Russell, Jenna Petterson, Annie Sittauer
Substitutes Not Used: Kelly Beck, Hannah Brewer, Nikki Bonnell, Sheridan Jones, Marta Mathews
SHOTS: 14; SAVES: 5; FOULS: 7; OFFSIDES: 6
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Taryn Swiatek; Nicole Stewart (Sessen Stevens), Kirsteen Buchan (Sam Donald), Rachel Jones (Chelsea Harkins), Reetu Johal, Aman Shergill, Kelly Cook (Kathryn Baker), Natalie Boyd, Jasmine Mander, Jasmin Dhanda, Summer Clarke
Substitutes Not Used: Julia McDonald.
SHOTS: 8; SAVES: 6; FOULS: 5; OFFSIDES: 1
Referee: Katerina Koroleva
Referee's Assistants: Kristin D. Patterson, Paige Erin Kulm
Time of Game: 7:30 p.m. PT
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial