By Alan Douglas/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps Prospects Women overpowered the visiting NSGSC Eagles 5-1 at Simon Fraser University on Saturday afternoon.
Jessica Hadden led the way with two goals, as the Whitecaps are now undefeated in their last ten Pacific Coast Soccer League matches. Unfortunately for the Prospects, striker Jenna Richardson saw her remarkable eight-game goal streak come to an end.
With head coach Jesse Symons away in Kelowna, BC, this weekend, assistant coach Alan Churchard assumed the coaching reins for the weekend, as he faced the challenge of two games in as many days. And with both games being played in the heat of the afternoon, the squad's depth would sure to be tested.
Saturday's match saw the return to the starting XI of defenders Sarah Pennington and Erin Uchacz, as they anchored a 3-4-3 formation. Kendra Williams and Maryse Reichgeld started on the flanks, while up front, Katie Turney and Alicia Tesan joined Richardson.
Traffic problems in Vancouver had an impact on this game, as some Eagles players, as well as one of the match officials, were late in arriving at SFU's Terry Fox Field. As a result, the match was a few minutes late starting, while the visiting Eagles having to juggle their line-up.
The Prospects controlled play from the outset. It proved to be a busy afternoon for Eagles goalkeeper Stephanie Moignard - herself a former Whitecaps youth player, who had a spell with the women's team back in 2005.
The first really good chance came on 19 minutes. Richardson chased a bouncing ball down the right, and Moignard had to come out to stop her effort from close range. A minute later, Richardson blew past her marker on the right and played the ball to Tesan at the far post. Her first-time blast was bravely blocked by a defender, with the rebound falling for Richardson, who curled her shot just past the left post.
The Whitecaps chances were now coming fast and furious. In a span of just three minutes, Richardson fired wide, Tesan fired over the crossbar, Turney headed wide of the target, and Natalie Boyd had her 25-yard shot saved by Moignard.
The inevitable opening goal came on 27 minutes. Turney at the left edge of the box cut inside her marker and got away a good shot, which Moignard stopped. The rebound, however, sat nicely for Tesan to tap in. It was her third goal of the season, and second in as many matches.
The Eagles, however, leveled the score against the run of play on 35 minutes. Jessica Horning on the left crossed the ball, which skipped past Whitecaps goalkeeper Gurveen Clair, giving Shimone Slomowitz a simple tap-in. Curiously, Slomowitz is another former Whitecaps goalkeeper, who was playing as an outfield player in this game for the under-strength visitors.
The Eagles then nearly took a shock lead seconds later on a similar play. A ball into the Prospects box bounced through to Lisa Furtani in front, but she mis-hit her shot, with her effort running square to Slomowitz, who stabbed it just wide of the post from five yards out.
The Whitecaps came close to restoring their lead in the closing minutes of the half. On 44 minutes, a good pass from substitute Hadden sent Richardson away, chasing a bouncing ball. She got there just ahead of the onrushing Moignard, and tried to first-time a volley over the Eagles keeper and in, but her shot went wide. A minute later, a great diagonal ball from Reichgeld on the right found Kendra Williams breaking into the box, but Moignard made a superb reaction save to parry the near-post shot.
It was 1-1 at halftime.
The Whitecaps switched to a 4-3-3 formation for the second half, bringing on Nikki Ambrose at left fullback. With the Eagles tiring, Vancouver dominated the second half.
On 47 minutes, Richardson charged down the right flank, cut in, but rolled a shot wide of the far post. At the other end a minute later, Slomowitz headed the ball wide from good position, but that would proved to be the last good opportunity for the visitors.
On 52 minutes, Jenna Di Nunzio cut inside her marker on the right, and curled a great shot towards the top left-hand corner of the goal, but Moignard made the stop in spectacular fashion.
Five minutes later, Richardson flew down the right and centred a pass for Boyd, but an Eagles defender blocked away what looked to be a sure goal.
The Whitecaps regained the lead on 59 minutes, as Di Nunzio won a battle in the box, with the ball breaking kindly for her. She stabbed it on goal at the near post, with the ball somehow slipping underneath Moignard and crossing over the goalline. It was Di Nunzio's seventh goal of the season.
Two minutes later, it was 3-1. Richardson beat her marker on the right and crossed to Hadden in front. The diminutive striker outfought two defenders for the ball, and stroked it past Moignard.
On 68 minutes, Richardson and Hadden combined again. They worked a nice two-on-two break, with Richardson going down the right before slipping a delicate ball across to Hadden on the diagonal run the opposite way. The young striker fired it home for her second goal of the match and third of the campaign.
The Whitecaps closed out scoring on 81 minutes with a pretty goal. Nicole Setterlund in front ran onto Sarah Pennington's cross from the right, and deflected it inside the post with a deft touch. It was Setterlund's third goal of the season.
The scoreline could have been higher, but Moignard made a good save off Michelle Godoy on 88 minutes. Then in stoppage time, she denied Tessa Meyer on a feed from Godoy after the unmarked midfielder had all kinds of time to tee up her shot in front of goal.
In the end, it finished 5-1.
The Whitecaps record now stands at 11W-1L-3D, to move back into top spot in the PCSL Premier Division. However, only a complete collapse by Fraser Valley Action will prevent them from claiming the regular season title. However, the Prospects have secured a playoff spot and will compete for the Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup in Kelowna, BC, on the weekend of July 25 and 26.
The Prospects Women complete their regular season schedule on Sunday afternoon at home to defending PCSL champions Victoria Stars at SFU's Terry Fox Field. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. PDT.
Whitecaps Prospects Women
1.Gurveen Clair; 14.Sarah Pennington, 16.Carolyn Bell, 8.Erin Uchacz; 11.Kendra Williams (12.Nicole Setterlund 62'), 4.Natalie Boyd (13.Michelle Godoy 68'), 19.Tessa Meyer, 3.Maryse Reichgeld (15.Nikki Ambrose 45'); 22.Jenna Richardson (20.Mikyla Kay 80'), 5.Alicia Tesan (2.Jessica Hadden 38'), 18.Katie Turney (10.Jenna Di Nunzio 45')