In a decisive Saturday evening match-up ripe with playoff implications, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (6W-5L-3D) suffered a 3-0 defeat away to Northwest Division leaders Kitsap Pumas (12W-0L-3D) in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action at Bremerton Memorial High School in Bremerton, Washington.
The 'Caps came into the match needing a favourable result, as they chase down British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC for the second and final playoff spot in the PDL's Western Conference, Northwest Division. Sitting comfortably atop the standings and already guaranteed a playoff spot, Kitsap were eager to maintain the form that has seen them dominate opponents all season long.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten was pleased to have the additional services of Major League Soccer squad players Philippe Davies and Alexandre Morfaw in his starting XI, hoping their poise and experience would rub off on their teammates in this all-important tilt. Forwards Ben Fisk and Caleb Clarke came into the match enjoying great success around the net, and were looking to continue the scoring prowess against a Pumas squad that had surrendered only eight goals all season long.
Unfortunately, it was not to be on a rainy Saturday evening in Washington State, as Kitsap came out showing no signs of resting on their laurels, given their guaranteed playoff position. Both teams began the match eager for the first goal, playing an aggressive first half that looked like it would not produce anything on the scoresheet. However, Pumas striker Robbie Christner converted a feed from Bryan Burke on 44 minutes to give the home side the lead just before halftime.
The young 'Caps emerged in the second half looking to even things up and gain valuable away points in their PDL playoff hunt. The 'Caps came out to a blistering start, as they peppered Pumas goalkeeper Bryan Meredith with nine second-half shots in an effort to level matters, but it was to no avail. With time winding down, Pumas striker Warlen Silva was able to slot one home past Residency goalkeeper Callum Irving, making it 2-0 before Bryan Burke added extra insurance with a marker one minute later for a 3-0 Pumas victory.
Grootscholten was very pleased with his team's start, but acknowledged that his squad needed to finish their chances on Saturday. "We started very well and had a fantastic opening 40 minutes," he told whitecapsfc.com. "We ended up with a bit of miscommunication that caused the first goal, but we came out in the second half and played physical against an older and more experienced squad. We hit two posts in the second half that were unlucky misses, but the process is certainly there and the players are developing. Now we will look forward to the next week and our goal of making the playoff round."
Heading into the final week of the PDL regular season, the Residency team currently sit tied for third in the Northwest Division, even with BC rivals Abbotsford Mariners and three points back of Victoria for the final playoff spot. The 'Caps and Highlanders FC both have two games remaining, while Abbotsford has one match left to earn points and put themselves into postseason contention.
Heading into the home stretch, Whitecaps FC Residency return to hallowed ground this Wednesday night, as they host North Sound SeaWolves in their final PDL regular season home match at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC. Kickoff set for 6 p.m. PT. Kitsap Pumas, meanwhile, conclude their regular season campaign on the road against Victoria Highlanders FC next Saturday night.
44' - KIT - Robbie Christner (Bryan Burke)
83' - KIT - Warlen Silva
84' - KIT - Bryan Burke
Shots: Kitsap 11 – Vancouver 13
Saves: Kitsap 2 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Kitsap 10 – Vancouver 8
Offsides: Kitsap 4 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Kitsap 3 – Vancouver 6
35’ - VAN - Yassin Essa
39’- VAN - Alexandre Morfaw
89’ - KIT - Nick Besagno
90+ - VAN - Alex Rowley
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
1.Callum Irving; 2.Declan Rodriguez (19.Jason van Blerk 76’), 5.Derrick Bassi (12.Tim Hickson 81’), 4.Daniel Stanese, 3.La'Vere Corbin-Ong; 15.Philippe Davies (13.Spencer DeBoice 68’), 10.Ben Fisk, 17.Alexandre Morfaw (18.Ben McKendry 70’), 8.Bryce Alderson (25.Alex Rowley 87’); 23.Yassin Essa (24.Carlos Marquez 68’), 9.Caleb Clarke
Subs not used: 3.Sean Melvin
1.Bryan Meredith; 5.Taylor Hyde (17.Samuel Roca 87’), 2.Kyle Johnson (21.Chris J. Andre 74’), 3.Mark Lee, 7.Stephen Mohn, 6.Dan Scott; 19.Nick Besagno, 4.David Gray; 13.Bryan Burke, 11.Robbie Christner (23.Kendell McFayden 87’), 12.Warlen Silva (18.Greg Miley 84’)
Subs not used: 1.Casey Collins, 28.Zac Lubin, 8.Matt Friesen