This past weekend saw the Highlanders home for back to back games with Khalsa Sporting Club and Vancouver Thunderbirds at Royal Athletic Park. In an effort to maintain pace atop the hot Pacific Coast Soccer Leagues Premier Men’s Division, the hosts netted a victory and a draw, keeping their name in a first place position at 23 points, tied with undefeated Vancouver United FC. The push for the playoffs is on, with every game requiring points to keep the Highlanders in contention.

 

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photo courtesy John Richardson

 

Saturday’s contest with Khalsa Sporting Club was an entertaining affair with attacking transitional play highlighting the locals style of play. Three goals for the Highlanders in the opening half carried them through for a 4-1 victory. New roster addition, Cam Hundal (Vikes Midfielder) was an energy force too difficult to contain as he factored in the opening goal setting up Paddy Nelson (13′). Nelson counted another (20′) and Keevan Webb (34′). Hundal would score (66′) before Khalsa would end keeper Noah Pawlowski’s three game shutout string with a goal by Anthony Dilicolo (78′).

While drought conditions exist on Vancouver Island & Haida Gwaii, goals continued to be found on Sunday as Highlanders hosted Vancouver Thunderbirds, a side consisting of UBC Thunderbirds varsity & alumni players. With both teams committing to attacking style of play, it made for entertaining soccer on the pitch. Highlanders carried a 2-1 lead into injury time, only to concede a tying goal at the death for a 2-2 final result.

 

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photo courtesy John Richardson

 

Highlanders opened the scoring on an assist by Hundal finding defender Ryan Ashlee (22′) with a seeing-eye pass for an easy tap in. Thunderbirds countered with an uncontested header by Zach Karmel (34′). The second half continued the see-saw battle. Striker, Paddy Nelson (56′) netted his third goal on the weekend as he settled a long through ball, stepped around the Thunderbird keeper for an easy pass to the back netting. Vancouver Thunderbirds  kept their wits about them and broke the hearts of the locals with a glancing header off a free kick in 90’+added that found its way past everyone, bouncing into the far corner.

 

A74Y0373photo courtesy John Richardson

 

“I’m very pleased with six goals in two games, all with quality ‘soft touch’ finishing”, noted coach David Dew. “Our ability to get behind opposition defenders has shown great improvement since the start of the season”.

Highlanders will need to win-out their remaining four games to have hope of a regular season league title. They travel to Ladysmith, Sunday, June 28th to meet their Island rival, Mid-Island Mariners, 2pm at Forrest Field. Highlanders final home game is a little more than a month away, July 19th at Royal Athletic Park.

An important announcement regarding the 2016 season and season ticket sales coming soon. Stay tuned.