July 11, 2012: Fraser Valley Mariners @ Vancouver Whitecaps U-23

Whitecaps U-23 Fraser Valley
1 GK Nolan Wirth 1 GK Mark Village
11 DF Reynold Stewart 10 DF Grant Fadden out 31'
2 DF James Farenhorst 5 DF Koby Byrne
4 DF Shawn Parkes 17 DF Nolan Moore
9 DF Alex Marello 3 DF Colton O'Neill
5 MF Bobby Jhutty 16 MF Omar Adlani out 31'
16 MF Gagandeep Dosanjh goal 83' 19 MF Justin Isidro goal 63'
3 MF Kianz Froese out 54' 15 MF Peter Bow
18 MF Cam Hundal goal 81' 21 MF Craig Robinson out 61'
17 FW Coulton Jackson out 69' 23 FW Adrian Kecec out 45'
6 FW Carlos Marquez out 38' 12 FW Alex Martinez out 44'
21 FW Michael Marousek in 38' 20 DF Davin Haigh in 31'
12 DF Declan Rodriguez in 54' 11 MF Jevin Hillis in 31'
19 FW Sang Hwang in 69' 18 FW Daniel Molendijk in 44'
14 FW Matt Rosenlund in 45'
4 MF Spencer MacKinnon in 61'

Coming into this game, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 needed only to win in order to guarantee themselves the inaugural Juan de Fuca Plate. And there was no doubt they would; the Fraser Valley Mariners had only a single point in USL PDL competition all season. They hadn't so much as scored a goal in the Plate and had lost their first two games to the Whitecaps U-23 by identical 4-0 scores. This was a completely one-sided matchup before kickoff. Even the Vancouver Southsiders in attendance on a spectacular evening at Swangard Stadium got in on the act, singing you're the worst team in the world to the underdog Mariners.

Fraser Valley had other ideas.

The Whitecaps were going with a largely unchanged lineup for their third game in a week, with their U-18 contingent just back the previous afternoon from Canadian U-20 camp in Mexico. Both teams were playing their last game of the season and out of the playoff hunt: the Mariners were also long ago eliminated from the Juan de Fuca Plate but looking for the chance to play spoiler. They very nearly did.

In the early going, Vancouver dominated both possession and the scoring chances. The Mariners sat back, and while their defending was by no means textbook it was also effective, with a series of last-ditch slides by centrebacks Nolan Moore and Koby Byrne saving what looked like certain goals for Vancouver in the first half hour. The Whitecaps attacked heavily down both flanks, Kianz Froese and Cam Hundal enjoying plenty of room, but when the chances came in goalkeeper Mark Village was there. Village was on sterling form, attacking both crosses and players with equal aggression and making some fine saves while his Mariners waited for a chance to turn the ball on the attack.

The two teams went into the half tied 0-0, only the fifth time in sixteen matches the Mariners have made it 45 minutes without falling behind. When the teams emerged from the tunnel Fraser Valley coach Ian Knight had already made three changes and Whitecaps supremo Craig Dalrymple had made one; the result was a half of dramatic offensive action.

Fraser Valley began to nudge its players forward and risked a few real attacks into Vancouver's area. A couple chancy crosses were snuffed out by former Mariners centreback and current Whitecaps regular James Farenhorst or young goalkeeper Nolan Wirth. The Whitecaps attack grew a bit less pressing and Fraser Valley saw more of the ball, and on 63 minutes they struck: from distance, midfielder Justin Isidro hit a firm shot to the top of the net that got over the fingers of a leaping Wirth and just under the crossbar. It was Isidro's first goal of the season and only the fourth scored by the Fraser Valley Mariners: for the first time since May 20, Fraser Valley had a 1-0 lead.

Their pride piqued, Vancouver went on the furious attack but Fraser Valley held firm. When the Whitecaps had a free kick in a dangerous area just outside the box, Village made the save of the season off a magnificently looping Gagandeep Dosanjh shot, leaping at full stretch to parry the ball from the top left corner with both hands.

Finally, just past the eighty minute mark, Vancouver broke through. Cam Hundal took the ball from the right wing and cut inside to just after the top of the box. Village got a hand to the low, bouncing left-footed shot but not enough and it dribbled in to tie the game at 1-1 and bring the Whitecaps crowd back into it.

Just over two minutes later, another Hundal run from the right bore results. A low driven cross was palmed clear by Village but unfortunately it fell right into the path of a sprinting Dosanjh. Dosanjh charged through the desperate sliding challenge of Mariners captain Colton O'Neill and finished off into an empty net, giving the Whitecaps captain his first goal of the Juan de Fuca Plate and Vancouver a vital 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

After a protracted stoppage time caused by an injury, match official Rubin Smilev blew the game dead and the Whitecaps supporters could celebrate at last. It took a tense win against a supremely gallant Fraser Valley team, one which deserved the applause and handshakes given by fans of both sides, but the Whitecaps had claimed the first ever Juan de Fuca Plate on goal difference over the Victoria Highlanders. Highlanders supporter Drew Shaw and Whitecaps supporter Jim Davidson presented the plate to Dosanjh and his teammates, who celebrated in style as the sun set behind Central Park.

Scoring Summary

63': 0-1 Fraser Valley Mariners. Justin Isidro [1]
81': 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps U-23. Cam Hundal [3]
83': 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps U-23. Gagandeep Dosanjh [1] (Cam Hundal)

Match Reports

Vancouver Whitecaps: Whitecaps FC U-23 end PDL season with Juan de Fuca Plate triumph
United Soccer Leagues: Whitecaps U-23 Down Mariners

Highlights (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)