Victoria, B.C. – The heavily favored Vancouver Whitecaps FC Women got a taste of humble pie on Mother’s Day in a 3-2 opening season loss to the Victoria Highlanders FC on Sunday in United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League action.
The Whitecaps started off strong with lots of flare and attack which resulted in plenty of scoring opportunities early. Whitecaps forward Mele French appeared to open the scoring early but the ball hit the crossbar. Highlanders goalie Stephanie Parker kept the game scoreless until Chelsea Buckland scored in the 36th minute. Buckland, who was the lone Canadian Women’s National Team player of the seven on the roster to suit for the Whitecaps on Sunday, was left unmarked in the box after a Whitecaps corner.
The turning point during this game occurred in the 38th minute when Whitecaps defender Brittany Galindo was shown a red card for a tackle inside the box. Highlanders forward Liz Hansen made no mistake from the spot, knotting the game at 1-1 headed into halftime.
Coming out of the break, the Victoria Highlanders FC scored two goals in a span of five minutes thanks to the duo of Lindsey Hoetzel and Janelle Smith. Hoetzel was set up by Smith off a corner in the 58th minute. Hoetzel also scored again five minutes later when she fired a brilliant shot into the top left corner past the out stretched arm of Whitecaps goalie Justine Bernier.
Despite being down by two, the Vancouver Whitecaps pressed forward and made the game interesting after scoring in the 69th minute. Chelsea Buckland sent in substitute Janine Frazao on a breakaway and Frazao was able to put the ball past Stephanie Parker and into the net.
The Whitecaps took this game over in the final 20 minutes but could not find an equalizing goal. Stephanie Parker played exceptional and was clearly the player of the game after closing the door on the Whitecaps. The red card that was shown to Britany Galindo had a huge impact on this game. The Whitecaps had to play catch up and the Highlanders were able to capitalize on the visitors being shorthanded.
Whitecaps Coach Jesse Symons praised both teams following the match.
“The players showed great character after we went down to 10,” he told whitecapsfc.com. “We failed to capitalize on some of our chances and give Victoria credit, they came out and played really hard.”
Whitecaps FC Starting XI: Justine Bernier; Alison Fenter (Brie 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)
Notes: This game was played in front of a record crowd of 750 spectators at Royal Athletic Park. The Whitecaps will play their first home game of the season on Friday, May 18th, against the Colorado Rush at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley at 7:30 PM.
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