Victoria PDL
Photo Credit: John Richardson

Whitecaps FC U-23 fall to Victoria Highlanders FC in season opener


VICTORIA, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (0W-1L-0D) narrowly missed earning a point on the road Sunday, falling 3-2 to Juan de Fuca Plate rivals Victoria Highlanders FC (1W-0L-0D) on a late penalty kick scored by Riley O’Neill at Royal Athletic Park.


The match was slow going in the beginning, but eventually the ‘Caps got it going as midfielder Cody Cook converted a beautiful low header on a perfectly placed corner kick by Reynold Stewart. The tally put Vancouver up 1-0 at 29 minutes.

However, Victoria wasted no time in responding, as Carlo Basso got a header of his own past Whitecaps FC U-23 goalkeeper Nolan Wirth. Basso redirected a nice cross from Cam Stokes to tie the game up 1-1 at 34 minutes.

Coming out of the half, Vancouver looked to have restored their lead, but a Nicholas Prasad goal off of a Stewart free kick was called offside.

At 82 minutes, the game turned again, as Vancouver midfielder and Winnipeg native Ali Musse put a quick strike into the top corner to put the ‘Caps up 2-1.

However, the Highlanders responded again quickly two minutes later, as Victoria sub Wesley Barrett took a pass from Basso and fired a bullet past Wirth’s outstretched fingertips.

Four minutes after that, 'Caps striker Yassin Essa ripped a 20-yard shot on target only to be denied by Victoria goalkeeper Elliott Mitrou who made a superb save.

In the first of minute stoppage time, a ball into the box found Basso, and as Wirth came out to challenge him, he was deemed to have fouled the Highlanders striker, giving the home side a last gasp penalty kick. O'Neill converted into the lower-right corner to win the game for Victoria, who now have the advantage in capturing the Juan de Fuca Plate. Vancouver will have a chance to redeem themselves later this month as they host Victoria in their home opener on Friday, May 23 at UBC Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

Despite the defeat, assistant coach Steve Meadley cited the team's youth as a reason for optimism as the season progresses. “We’re all just coming together. It’s a great learning experience for the new players to come into the club and learn the way we play. They’re all good, solid players who definitely have talent and ability and as the days of training kick on here, they will learn our system, and we will be much more efficient with our performance as a team.”  

Next up for Whitecaps FC U-23 is a match against Kitsap Pumas (0W-0L-0D) on Sunday, May 11. The Blue and White head to Bremerton, Washington to take on the Pumas at Gordon Park Field. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m. PT.

Scoring Summary:
29' - VAN - Cody Cook (Reynold Stewart)
34' - VIC - Carlo Basso (Cam Stokes)
82' - VAN - Ali Musse
84' - VIC - Wesley Barrett
90'+1 - VIC - Riley O'Neill (penalty kick)

Match Stats:
Shots: Victoria 11 – Vancouver 9
Saves: Victoria 5 - Vancouver 5
Fouls: Victoria 5 – Vancouver 8
Offsides: Victoria 0 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Victoria 8 – Vancouver 5

31' - VAN - Mark Baldisimo
20' - VIC - Riley O’Neill
90'+1 - VAN - Nolan Wirth

Vancouver FC U-23
1.Nolan Wirth; 4.Mark Baldisimo, 6.Jordan Farahani, 5.Nicholas Prasad, 27.Chris Serban; 23.Reynold Stewart, 24.Cody Cook (21.Ali Muse 74’), 25.Yassin Essa, 7.Harpreet Lakhan, 14.Brett Levis (20.Kyle Jones 86’); 9.Niall Cousens

Unused subs:
13.William Diaz, 12.Nike Azuma, 15.Vagelli Boucas. 16.Mason James

Victoia Higlanders FC
29.Elliott Mitrou; 5.Ryan Ashlee, 13.Tyler Hughes, 15.Andrew Ravenhill, 4.Gavin Barrett (14.Wesley Barrett 83’); 23.Cam Hundal (8.Adam Ravenhill 87’), 10.Riley O’Neill, 6.Alex Rowley, 18.Cameron Stokes (26.Sam Prette 64’); 9.Carlo Basso, 21.Blair Sturrock (19. Ian Greedy 71’)

Unused subs
1.Brandon Watson, 14.Wesley Barrett, 20.Tarnvir Bhandal, 2.Kevan Brown, 8.Adam Ravenhill, 19.Ian Greedy