Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Prospects teams ended their San Diego Surf Cup XXIX tournament campaigns in disappointment on Monday.
The U-18 Boys fell at the semifinal stage, while the U-18 Girls suffered heartbreak in Monday's championship final.
Day One reportDay Two reportClick here for Surf Cup results and standings
GIRLSVancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls 2 - So Cal Blues Bobak 1 (overtime)
Playing the 2008 US national champions in the semifinals, the Whitecaps faced a stern test in order to advance to the finals versus So Cal Blues Bobak.
The 'Caps began strong keeping good possession of the ball, but could not break through to open the scoring. Few chances were created by either side in the first half, as both sides struggled for possession and were strong defensively. It meant both teams went to halftime tied at 0-0.
The second half saw the match open up, with players working extremely hard to find the winner. So Cal Blues were the first to get on the scoreboard, as they notched a goal off of a corner on 50 minutes. The corner was first cleared by the Whitecaps, but an unlucky bounce at the top of the 18-yard box found a Blues player in behind the ‘Caps defense. Vancouver goalkeeper Gurveen Clair challenged the shooter and made an excellent point-blank save, but the rebound was slotted into the back of the 'Caps net for 1-0.
After the goal, the Whitecaps immediately went on the attack to find the equalizer, but the Blues strong, athletic defending was difficult to break down, and it looked as though the match would finish in frustration for the ‘Caps.
However, with only seconds remaining before the final whistle, Jaclyn Sawicki decided to take the game in to her own hands. Receiving the ball 25 yards out from goal, Sawicki beat two Blues players before cutting past a third Blues defender and striking the ball into the top left corner of the goal to send the match into overtime. With the momentum now in the Whitecaps corner, they pressed for the winner in the first half of overtime, but could not capitalize on their chances.
With the wind blowing at the Whitecaps back in the second overtime, a succession of corners would eventually lead to the golden goal winner. Once again, Sawicki found some space near the back post and volleyed a ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to send the 'Caps into the Surf Cup final. Sawicki stated after the match, "I am so happy that I could help my team make the final. It was such a team effort and the entire team played so well."
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Girls 1 - Real So Cal White 3 (Surf Cup XXIX final)
In the final of the Surf Cup, the Whitecaps faced a familiar team in the reigning Cal South State champions, for whom they defeated 3-1 in their opening match of the tournament. Real So Cal White finished second behind the Whitecaps in Bracket C with 17 points.
The match started off very similar to the first meeting between the two sides, with the Whitecaps going after the Real So Cal side and winning four consecutive corners in the opening five minutes.
The first quality chance came to Jenna DiNunzio on eight minutes, as she did well to get in behind the left back and received a pass from Natalie Boyd. However, her shot was tipped over the crossbar by the Real goalkeeper. On the quarter-hour mark, some great penetrating movement found Nicole Setterlund on the right side of the goal. She cut a ball across to DiNunzio on the left side, but her attempt for goal went over the crossbar.
On 20 minutes, the 'Caps were rewarded after solid build-up down the right-hand side. Mel Bowen knocked a ball behind the Real So Cal back four to an on-rushing Setterlund, who headed the ball into the net for a 1-0 Whitecaps lead at the break.
With the 'Caps now facing a strong headwind, the So Cal team came out flying for the equalizer after halftime. So Cal were rewarded six minutes after the restart from a corner for 1-1.
Having changed the momentum, So Cal got in behind the Whitecaps again, as their on-rushing striker snuck the ball past Whitecaps goalkeeper Gurveen Clair for 2-1. Seven minutes later, So Cal converted on another corner to make it 3-1.
The Whitecaps kept pressing to the end, but after being played in on goal, Janine Frazao's shot was well saved by the So Cal keeper.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards, with the Whitecaps being the first Canadian female side to reach a Surf Cup final. The last time a Whitecaps side reached a Surf Cup final was last year when the U-18 Boys finished runners-up in the U-19 Super division.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Boys 0 - Pachuca USA Internationals 1
The Whitecaps concluded their Surf Cup campaign at the semifinal stage against Maryland state champions Pachuca USA Internationals.
The 'Caps were pressed from the opening whistle and had to endure an early scare in the second minute when, off a corner, one of the Pachuca players made a strike for goal that deflected off the foot of Erik Hacker and onto the crossbar.
The Whitecaps would quickly settle into the match, however, and began to create quality chances through quick passing movements. The first chance was created when a nifty though ball by Curtis Helm found Jerome Lou in front of goal. However, the Pachuca USA goalkeeper made a superb save to preserve the 0-0 scoreline. Helm once again caused the Pachuca backline problems, as he found space and sent an excellent strike towards goal, but a Pachuca defender did well to clear the ball off the goal line. It was 0-0 at halftime.
With a strong wind blowing at the Whitecaps back in the second half, the ‘Caps were confident that they would be able to force matters in the second 35 minutes.
A great run by Bryan Cha, immediately after the interval, could only be stopped on the edge of the 18-yard box by an illegal tackle. From the ensuing free kick, Nolan Moore’s strike was saved by the Pachuca goalkeeper for a corner kick. The 'Caps had two more free kicks in promising positions, but wasted both opportunities.
Although it seemed only a matter of time before the 'Caps would score, Pachuca broke the deadlock getting a friendly bounce off a corner in the 51st minute. The ball fell right in front of their striker, who finished with ease for 1-0.
The goal gave Pachuca USA a lot of confidence and they managed to make some timely tackles to keep the Whitecaps from scoring, while the intensity of the game increased as every minute passed. Late in the match, the Whitecaps coaches changed the formation to a very attack-minded 3-3-4 formation in order to look for a late equalizer.
With one minute of regulation time left in the match, an unfortunate incident saw Ashley Ankiewicz collide heads with one of the Pachuca players, knocking both him and the Pachuca player unconscious. Fortunately, both players were okay, but did not return to the pitch.
In the last five minutes of injury time, the Whitecaps gave everything they could to get the equalizer, as both Cha and Riley Newport came very close to scoring on dangerous crosses. In the end, however, the 'Caps had to settle for a 1-0 defeat against a very classy, and extremely hard-working Pachuca side.
Later, after a meal and a swim in the San Diego waves, the Whitecaps learned that Pachuca beat Southern California side Slammers FC 4-3 in the final. The result brought the extremely competitive and challenging Surf Cup tournament to an end.