By Brandon Timko/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Men suffered a 3-2 defeat to Okanagan Challenge in an exciting Pacific Coast Soccer League match at Simon Fraser University on Saturday afternoon.
A second-half hat-trick from substitute Nick Auditore kept the Challenge in first place in the PCSL Premier Division standings, while Erik Hacker and Bryan Cha each scored their first goals of the season for the Prospects at SFU Field #4.
Okanagan threatened early, with SFU defender Gary Badesha blasting a free kick just over the crossbar two minutes in. The visitors would again come close on 17 minutes when Max Baessato headed the ball into the box towards Roman Doutkevitch, only to see the SFU midfielder knock the ball inches wide.
The Prospects first good chance came on 28 minutes when Lucas Barrett headed a long throw-in just wide of goal. However, Bart Choufour’s side would take the lead before the break, courtesy of a Hacker header off of a long free kick from Kyle Knees.
The Challenge would not waste any time getting back into the match to start the second half. Dillion Ferridge, another SFU player, made a run down the left flank before finding Auditore at the top of the Whitecaps box. The Arizona native would make no mistake, as he fired a hard shot past the outstretched arms of Prospects goalkeeper Matt Robinson to level the match at 1-1.
The 'Caps would regain the lead on 61 minutes after Riley Newport sent a pinpoint cross to the far post, allowing an unmarked Cha to easily head the ball past Challenge goalkeeper J.D. Blakley for a 2-1 advantage.
Yet, the Prospects hard work would be undone moments later, with Auditore finishing a Tyler Murphy cross with a leaping header to level the match at 2-2.
The goal seemed to spark the visitors, as they nearly took the lead on 66 minutes. After a scramble in the box, Auditore caught Robinson out of his net and fired a bouncing ball towards the far post. Milos Jeftic, also a member of Alan Koch’s SFU Clan squad, got a foot on the ball, but only enough to see it hit the outside of the post.
Auditore looked to finish his hat-trick three minutes later, but his diving header did not trouble Robinson. However, the striker would not be denied his third goal on 79 minutes, as he beat the 'Caps defence to a long pass up field before poking the ball past Robinson for the match winner.
With time ticking away and the 'Caps desperate for an equalizer, Robinson bolted to the other end of the field for a last-ditch corner. The Prospects keeper would get on the end of the kick, but could not get his header on target, as the match ended 3-2 in favour of the visitors.
Choufour was pleased to see his team respond from a disappointing performance in their last match. "We played much better. Everyone came to play today," he told whitecapsfc.com. "We showed great improvement and created some chances. I’m very happy with today’s performance."
The Prospects Men are back in action on Sunday afternoon, as they host another British Columbia Interior side in Kamloops Excel SC at SFU Field #4. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. PDT.
Whitecaps Prospects Men
Matt Robinson; Kyle Knees, Jerome Lou (Ashley Ankiewicz 67’), Rhys Volkenant, Denny Serifovic (Bryan Cha 45’); Riley Newport, Erik Hacker (Adam Staschuk 74’), Ruben Casablanca (Curtis Helm 80’), Ashley Ankiewicz (Carlos Del Aguila 36’); Gavin Barrett, Lucas Barrett
J.D. Blakley; Gary Badesha, Milos Jeftic, Roman Doutkevitch (Liom Miller 45’), Scott Mazurkewich (Tyler Murphy 45’, Scott Mazurkewich 71’), Dillion Ferridge, Luke Haidorvic (Joel Malouf 45’), Max Baessato, Josh Leins, Anthony DiNiccilo, David Hill (Nick Auditore 45’)