Vancouver Whitecaps FC women battled to a 1-1 draw away to Pali Blues, Wednesday night in Pacific Palisades, California. Substitute midfielder Tina Romagnuolo converted a 75th minute penalty kick for Vancouver after Pali had opened scoring late in the first half.
For the first time this campaign, there were no debutants in the Whitecaps FC starting line-up, as coach Hubert Busby Jr went with 11 players who had all previously started this season. In midfield, United States U-23 international Amber Brooks returned to the line-up after serving a one-game suspension.
Whitecaps FC started brightly and nearly opened the scoring on 14 minutes. A searching ball from the back found striker Sydney Leroux behind the Pali backline. As she went in alone, Leroux cut past Pali goalkeeper Gay Adelaide who had come well out. With defenders swarming, she fired at the empty goal, but put it just wide from 30 yards.
Midway through the half, right fullback Krista Kruse hit a good shot from the edge of the area that was headed for the top-right corner, forcing a spectacular one-handed stop from Adelaide.
The home side had the odd chance as well, as Pali hit the crossbar from an angle to the left of goal on 27 minutes. Then, on 41 minutes, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Kristen Funk had to be quick off her goal line to stop a partial breakaway.
Pali then opened the scoring with a minute left in the half. Following a turnover in midfield, Tiffany McCarty played it ahead to Anisa Guajardo to the right of goal, allowing her to fire home for a 1-0 lead. The goal ended Funk's shutout streak at 310 minutes.
Coach Busby felt his side was a bit unlucky to go into halftime down a goal. "I thought we had some chances early on to take the lead, and then they capitalized against the run of play just before the half - those are the worst goals to give up. But I thought our response in the second half was very good."
In that second half, Whitecaps FC battled back, outworking the home side and applying pressure high up the field. That forced Pali into a number of mistakes and turnovers. One such mistake came on minute 75 when a Blues defender took down Romagnuolo just inside the Pali penalty area, with match referee Marcelo Ciancaglini pointing to the spot. Romagnuolo took the penalty kick herself, and slotted it perfectly into the bottom left corner, just beyond the reach of the diving Adelaide.
"They've got a lot of quick dynamic players up front," explained Busby after the match, "so we worked on nullifying and reducing their space. The only chances they had in the second half came off set pieces."
With Pali back on their heels, the 'Caps looked for a win. With ten minutes remaining, Jen Stoltenberg rifled a shot just over the bar from 25 yards. Then, on 86 minutes, Stoltenberg hit a rising 20-yard blast that hit the outside edge of the post.
The 1-1 draw extends Vancouver's regular season undefeated streak to 14 matches over two seasons. Whitecaps FC's record now stands at 3W-0L-1D on the season. Pali also remain undefeated at 2W-0L-2D in United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League Western Conference play.
The 'Caps continue their three-match California road trip on Friday against the expansion Los Angeles Strikers before closing out the away run Sunday at Santa Clarita Blue Heat. The next Whitecaps FC home match is Friday, June 10, against the Strikers at Surrey's Newton Athletic Park. Note that the start time for that match has been changed to 8 p.m. PT. The match is part of the Whitecaps Women's Soccer Series presented by Kia - in partnership with the Girls Metro Soccer League - and is being hosted by Surrey FC Pegasus. Tickets for all home games are available online at www.whitecapsfc.com/wtickets.
44' - PAL - Anisa Guajardo (Tiffany McCarty)
75' - VAN - Tina Romagnuolo (penalty)
Shots: Vancouver 9 - Pali 11
Saves: Vancouver 3 - Pali 1
Fouls: Vancouver 4 - Pali 3
Corners: Vancouver 2 - Pali 5
Offsides: Vancouver 2 - Pali 3
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
29.Kristen Funk; 15.Krista Kruse, 3.Shannon Woeller, 4.Lexi Marton, 2.Erica Campanelli; 22.Kelsey Hood, 8.Tiffany Weimer (7.Tina Romagnuolo 62'), 23.Amber Brooks; 20.Jen Stoltenberg, 9.Sydney Leroux, 17.Carrie Patterson (11.Alysha Bonnick 66')
Subs not used: 1.Jaclyn Dunnett, 10.Tseng Shu-O, 16.Julie Armstrong, 25.Ciara McCormack, 30.Ranee Premji
0.Gay Adelaide; 6.Elizabeth Eddy, 13.Sasha Andrews, 17.Danielle Hubka, 18.Christie Shaner; 5.Shawna Gordon, 15.Ashley Bowyer (9.Jamia Fields 89'), 23.Molly Kruger; 7.Anisa Guajardo, 10.Jessica Price (12.Kiley Williams 82'), 11.Tiffany McCarty
Subs not used: 30.Anne Turner, 14.Irina Maximova, 21.Sheuneen Ta, 25.Lauren Lindstrom, 34.Cortni Joyner