Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women did well to rebound from of pair of recent defeats with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in their rematch against Tri-Cities Xtreme at Coquitlam's Dr. Charles Best Secondary on Friday night.
Chelsea Buckland continued her strong play up front for the 'Caps with a goal, while Vancouver keeper Shimone Slomowitz made several brilliant saves to preserve the point, including a stop on a late penalty kick. Whitecaps first-team striker Melissa Mobilio netted the Xtreme goal from a spot kick.
For this match, the Whitecaps inserted Kelly Cook into the back four, allowing Carolyn Bell to move up into midfield. The Prospects were no doubt pleased to see that they did not have to contend with imposing striker Phebe Trotman, who did not dress for the talent-laden Xtreme.
While the field at Charles Best is a good size, there was little room to be found in this tightly-contested match, as neither side were allowed the other time or space to find their attacking rhythm. Chances were few in the first half, which started evenly, but gradually saw Tri-Cities gain the edge in possession.
Vancouver's best chance of the opening frame came at the midway point, as Buckland to the right of goal did well to turn on a bouncing ball, leaving two defenders in her wake, before blasting her shot well over the Tri-Cities crossbar.
Meanwhile, Whitecaps goalkeeper Slomowitz was well positioned to make routine saves off Sara Maglio and Carlen Oates. Then with two minutes remaining in the half, the Whitecaps keeper got some help from defender Brienna Shaw, who used her body to deflect a dangerous volley just wide in the box by Marni McMillan.
It was 0-0 at the break.
The home side came out strong in the second half. Just a minute in, Xtreme striker Mobilio must have thought she had opened scoring, only to see a cat-like Slomowitz leap through the air and claw the ball away from the top left corner.
Mobilio would open scoring moments later, however. The ball bounced dangerously in the Vancouver area, and as it dropped into a cluster of players at the edge of the six-yard box, the referee spotted an infraction and signaled for a penalty. Remarkably, it was the third straight spot kick that the Prospects had conceded to Tri-Cities in two games. On 50 minutes, Mobilio dispatched the spot kick to give the home side the lead.
With the tempo of the match increasing, opportunities started coming for both teams.
Whitecaps top scorer Alicia Tesan had two chances for a quick reply, but fired wide after a good break. Then seconds later, Tesan got a bad break, as her shot deflected off a defender and went straight into the keeper's arms.
At the other end, Maglio volleyed a rocket over the bar on minute 65 after a good cross from Oates.
The Whitecaps came straight back and found their equalizer a minute later. A Bell free kick from the right fell to Buckland at the top of the area and her first-time shot arced over the keeper and dropped into the Tri-Cities net.
The Xtreme then came very close to regaining the lead within minutes, but were denied by Slomowitz. A poor clearance by the Vancouver defence went straight up the middle, where Lindsay Sadgrove hit a first-timed rocket from 28 yards, but the Prospects keeper dove to push the ball off the inside of the left post. The ball just barely stayed out before being cleared.
With time running out, it looked like the game would finish level. Incredibly with seven minutes remaining, however, the Xtreme were awarded yet another penalty kick, their fourth in two games. Mobilio had done well to steal the ball, then broke into the box deep on the left before going down under the tackle of Shaw, who appeared to have won the ball. The veteran Maglio stepped to the spot, and hit it well towards the top left corner, but Slomowitz continued to be the hot Prospect on the night with an incredible save, as she flew through the air and pushed the ball off the underside of the crossbar. It bounced out and was cleared just ahead of two Xtreme players, with Slomowitz then mobbed by her grateful teammates.
Both teams went for the win in the closing minutes, with the best chance going to the Whitecaps. A crunching tackle from forward Michelle Godoy allowed her to keep possession and break on the right before slipping it ahead to the speedy Tesan. She fought her way past her marker just in front of goal, but was in too tight and the keeper managed to block her path and force the ball over for a corner.
Efforts in the final seconds by Nikki Wright for Vancouver, and Mobilio for the Xtreme went for naught, and the closely-fought match ended with honours even.
Vancouver's record now sits at 6-3-1 in the Pacific Coast Soccer League Premier Division, while Tri-Cities move to 5-1-1. The Prospects will remain on the road, as they visit struggling Kelowna United on Saturday, June 28, with the game taking place just north of Kelowna in the lake-side town of Winfield, BC.
Whitecaps Prospects Women - starting line-up v Tri-Cities Xtreme
Shimone Slomowitz; Melissa Bowen, Brienna Shaw, Kelly Cook, Alanna Foster; Tessa Meyer, Carolyn Bell, Janine Frazao; Alicia Tesan, Chelsea Buckland, Nikki Wright