Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Optimum weather conditions and a fourty minute travel delay with the late arriving Kamloops Heat did not dispell the 500 supporters who came out to see the new Highlanders FC in their Pacific Coast Soccer League debut at Royal Athletic Park. The locals came back from a one goal deficit late in the second half to draw the visitors 2:2.
Highlanders enjoyed an advantage in play in the opening half but were not lucky to finish on their scoring chances. Their transition game involved active fullbacks who were fed long diagonal balls on some daring runs. The locals were able to push through in added time at the end of the half when Domonic Colantonio side footed the ball across the face of the goal into the far side netting giving the Highlanders the 1:0 lead.
In a tale of two halves, risk plays by the Highlanders turned into two costly mistakes within a two minute span as
Kamloops took the lead 2:1 on goals by Peter Lonocar and Keenan Wallace (one of three Wallace brothers in the contest) in minutes 56 and 58. The energy in the crowd disappeared.
Never daunted, the locals kept pushing forward. Mackenzie Cole, a U18 player in the former Highlanders youth program made his mark as a second half subsitution. He sent six year Highlander veteran, Adam Ravenhill free on a diagonal through ball to the grandstand touchline. Ravenhill, sent a cross into the penalty area that was effortlessly settled by striker Derek deGroot between two Kamloops defenders and he buried it from six yards away in the 80th minute.
It’s a quick turnaround as Highlanders FC hosts Abbotsford Magnusson Ford FC tomorrow, a 12 noon kick off.
Highlander FC Head Coach, David Dew knows he has a little work ahead. “We took risks in areas where we shouldn’t and it cost us a couple of goals. We need to address that”, he said. “Despite that, I’m really pleased we were able to come back and tie the game”.
It’s double ‘dewty’ for coach Dew tomorrow as he coaches back to back games as Highlanders ladies compete in Senior Women’s A Cup Provincial Championship Semi-Final vs. North Shore Girls Soccer Club Renegades, a 2:30pm kick off following the mens game (12 noon) against Abbotsford Magnusson Ford FC at Royal Athletic Park.
Four ticket game packages are available on-line at www.selectyourtickets.com or individual game tickets can be purchased at the gate, one hour prior to opening kick-off.
Manny Gomez looks to hit target in area. photo: Randy Wachtin