Soccer: Teitur Thordarson believes the huge psychological lift his players will get from their first USL First Division win in five games is the perfect tonic as the Whitecaps men embark on a gruelling four-game road trip to the U.S. this week.
Eduardo Sebrango Saturday thumped home his sixth goal of the season in the 12th minute of the second Swangard encounter against the Railhawks in 13 days - and the striker could easily have had a hat-trick before half-time.
With only a solitary goal advantage at the break, however, head coach Thordarson challenged his team to show their collective defensive mettle to fend off the impending Carolina charge - and they didn't let him down.
"It was fantastic to get the win," he said. "Lately we have been struggling at the beginning of games and coming on strong in the second half; today it was the opposite. This time we took the lead and had to defend it.
"It was a bit of a psychological thing, being so long since we had won a game, so it was important to get all three points. Hopefully it will give us a boost for the road trip."
The Whitecaps, who moved up to second place in the table after their first win against Carolina, now face four away games in eight days. They kick off in Miami tomorrow, tackle the Railhawks again on Friday, leaders Charleston on Sunday and Atlanta a week tomorrow.
Making the start even tougher is the fact that both Valente and the influential Justin Moose will be suspended for the Miami game, after being among five home players booked Saturday - while Moose is also struggling with a stomach/groin problem.
The men's victory raised the spirits of the Whitecaps' supporters, who earlier witnessed the women's season come to a disappointing end when they were edged out of the W-League Final Four by a 67th-minute goal from Seattle's Chalise Baysa in the Western Conference play-off final.
Lexi Marton had a goal disallowed and Karla Schacher hit a post for Vancouver, who were outplayed before the break but came on strong after it - substitute Tiffeny Milbrett and Schacher both going agonizingly close to equalizing late-on.
Head coach Bob Birarda, who was without key player Chelsea Stewart and forced to start with influential captain Tiffeny Milbrett on the bench - after she injured her back during training Friday - hailed his side's valiant attempt to rescue the game.
"I'm obviously disappointed by the result, but pleased with the energy and commitment the players showed after the first 20 minutes [when Seattle dominated]," Birarda reflected. "Seattle are a good team and we had to overcome a lot of adversities today - which we almost did.
"Overall, though, I think the season has been a big success, particularly with what we've had to deal with (a hectic schedule of games and other commitments, including the recent Under-20 tournament in Mexico)."
Milbrett, who could hardly walk Friday after the training ground incident, said the timing of her injury was heart-wrenching, but lauded the efforts of her team-mates who took the field without her.
"Not being able to be out there [from the start] really hurt," she said. "But I thought [they] were great and I was really proud of the performance. We just weren't able to put one in there."