Mele Victoria game
Photo by Randy Wachtin

Vancouver Whitecaps FC women shocked in season opener

VICTORIA, BC - In the opening match of their 2012 United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC women were humbled on Sunday afternoon, losing a 3-2 decision to intra-provincial rivals Victoria Highlanders FC at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, BC.

The ‘Caps traded chances early with Highlanders FC, as goalkeeper Justine Bernier and the ‘Caps back four weathered an early storm of chances from the home side, who looked to put on a show for the fans in their home opener. The Blue and White then scored the first goal of the match, as a Mele French corner kick was knocked down by Mary Kate McLaughlin and the loose ball found the boot of Canadian Olympic hopeful Chelsea Buckland. The Delta, BC, native then fired a shot past Victoria goalkeeper Stephanie Parker for a 1-0 lead.

“Chelsea is a great finisher,” noted Jesse Symons, Whitecaps FC women’s head coach to “Chelsea brought a calmness to our team today and you can see why she plays at the highest levels.”

However, after Buckland scored, Victoria would get a break, as 'Caps defender Brittany Galindo was shown a red card for a tackle in the box on 42 minutes. This gave the home side a penalty kick and brought the ‘Caps down to 10 players for the rest of the match. Liz Hansen buried the spot kick to make it even going into halftime, 1-1.

Symons' squad knew they were going to be in tough against a stingy Victoria team, especially down to 10 players. With the advantage, Highlanders FC took a 2-1 lead off a corner kick, which the ‘Caps initially cleared, but only to see the ball quickly played back into the box by Janelle Smith before Lindsey Hoetzel eventually scored on 58 minutes. Victoria would then put their final tally on the board, as Hoetzel rifled a shot into the top left corner past an outstretched Bernier on 63 minutes.

Buckland tried to help get the ‘Caps back in it, as she spun and fed a streaking Janine Frazao. In on goal, the University of British Columbia striker made no mistake, finishing into the back of the net to get the ‘Caps to within one with a little over 20 minutes to go.

Unfortunately for the ‘Caps, that was as close as they would come, as they dropped their season opener and suffered a first-ever loss to Highlanders FC.

“The players showed great character after we went down to 10,” said Symons. “We failed to capitalize on some of our chances, and give Victoria credit, they came out and played really hard.”

With the home opener just days away for the ‘Caps, they will have to regain their focus quickly. “I look for our squad to bring the same level of character and effort to the pitch on Friday night,” added Symons. “We created a lot of chances today and we will look to carry that momentum onto the pitch against Colorado.”

Whitecaps FC now turn their attention to their home opener next Friday night at home to Colorado Rush at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley, BC. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. PT. Victoria, meanwhile, play next Sunday, as the Rush will board the Vancouver Island ferry to play Highlanders FC at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

Scoring Summary:
41' - VAN - Chelsea Buckland
43' - VIC - Liz Hansen
58' - VIC - Lindsay Hoetzel (Janelle Smith)
63' - VIC - Lindsay Hoetzel (Janelle Smith)
69'- VAN - Janine Frazao (Chelsea Buckland)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 20 - Victoria 5
Saves: Vancouver 0 - Victoria 10
Fouls: Vancouver 4 - Victoria 3
Corners: Vancouver 8 - Victoria 1
Offsides: Vancouver 0 - Victoria 0

42' - VAN - Brittany Galindo

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Justine Bernier; Alison Fenter (Brienna Shaw 45’), Brittany Galindo, Mary Kate McLaughlin, Danielle Johnson; Nicole Setterlund, Jenny Jeffers, Jaclyn Sawicki (Brandi Vega 70’); Mele French, Chelsea Buckland, Taylor Patterson (Janine Frazao 45’)

Substitutes not used: 30.Gurveen Clair, 31.Ally Williamson, 8.Demi Stokes, 19.Molly Rouse

Victoria Highlanders FC
1.Stephanie Parker; 21.Mallory Hackett, 16.Carsen Machin, 26.Rebecca Swan, 2.Kelsey Tikka; 10.Sarah Douglas, 14.Jacqeline Harrison, 12.Amelie Mercier, 13.Mariel Solsberg; 9.Liz Hansen, 17.Natalie Scharf

Substitutes: 32.Tanya Jones, 3.Janelle Smith, 4.Lindsay Hoetzel, 8.Megan Webster, 15.Katie Kraeutner, 18.Heather Christie

To purchase tickets to any Whitecaps FC women's home match, visit or contact Hugh Hamilton at 778.330.1360 or As in the past two seasons, Whitecaps FC will play their W-League home matches in various communities in British Columbia as part of the Whitecaps Women’s Soccer Series presented by Kia. Find the full Whitecaps FC 2012 W-League schedule HERE.