Despite spirited performances from both teams, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 and U-16 Residency sides could not get the wins their efforts deserved against De Anza Force at UBC's Varsity Field on Saturday.
The U-18s fought back with a late goal to claim a 3-3 draw whilst the U-16s lost 2-1 in an even match that could have gone either way.
Both teams are back in action on Sunday at Varsity Field vs. Santa Cruz Breakers. The U-18s kick off at 11 a.m. PT, with the U-16s set to play at 1:30 p.m. PT.
Gordon Forrest's U-18 side (15W-6L-3D) came up against third place De Anza Force and snatched a late draw to cap off an entertaining match.
Whitecaps FC got off to a dream start when after only two minutes a free kick into the box was headed in by defender Nicholas Prasad.
The home side doubled their advantage with a fine individual effort from Marco Bustos who picked the ball up outside the area and unleashed an unstoppable strike past the 'keeper from 20 yards out.
Just before halftime, De Anza Force pulled a goal back from a free kick to make the score 2-1 going into the break.
Whitecaps FC were put under pressure in the second half as De Anza Force executed a high pressing game that was rewarded with goals in the 58th and 68th minutes to leave Vancouver trailing 3-2.
A moment of class from Brody Huitema levelled the scores on 79 minutes as the sriker took the ball into the area and showed composure to produce a fine finish.
Coach Forrest praised the team for getting back into the match and highlighted the lessons to be taken from the performance.
"It was an interesting game and good for various players to learn from," said Forrest. "We started well going two goals up but we were put under a little bit of pressure and we took the foot off the gas a little bit. Some individual errors and collective errors allowed them to get back into the game but credit to the boys, they pulled a goal back to tie it at the end."
Whitecaps FC lineup:
Sean Melvin; Matthew van der Eyden, Jackson Farmer, Nicholas Prasad, Sam Adekugbe; Liam Elbourne, Mitch Piraux, Marco Bustos; Yassin Essa, Brody Huitema, Matthew Chow
In a close encounter, Whitecaps FC (6W-15L-3D) lost out 2-1 against top of the table De Anza Force with seven U-15 players seeing action.
The first half saw chances for both sides but the deadlock was broken in fortuitous fashion as a corner from De Anza Force took a bounce in the area and snuck in off the post.
Whitecaps FC went two down just after the break when a free kick was struck from outside the area and ricoched off a couple of players before going in.
On 60 minutes, Whitecaps FC won the ball in De Anza Force's half. Terran Campbell and Dario Zanatta combined well on a quick counter attack before Campbell struck a powerful effort from just inside the area to make the score 2-1.
With Whitecaps FC pushing for a second, they thought they had grabbed a deserved equalizer when on 75 minutes Alex Comsia tapped in at the back post but the referee called the goal back for offside as the match finished 2-1.
Coach Craig Dalrymple was pleased with the performance from his young side against one of the best teams in the league.
"It's extremely pleasing for such a young group to push a team that's top of the table," Dalrymple commented. "We played well, conceded two goals from set pieces but that's something we can work on. There were a couple of near misses so it could easily have been a different result. It's not the result we want but that will change with time as this group matures and develops to catch up with the age that they're playing against."
Whitecaps FC lineup:
Marco Carducci; Kadin Chung, Vaggeli Boucas (Matthew Baldisimo 65'), Alex Comsia, Eric de Graaf; David Norman (Matteo Bordignon 50'), Jeevin Kang (Rahid Rahiem 70'), Tommy Gardner (Andy Xu 60;'); Terran Campbell, Dario Zanatta, Joshua Cuthbert (Daniel Sagno 50')