By: Craig Wright
SFU men’s soccer was unlucky to come away empty-handed from their meeting with Whitecaps FC 2 on Friday evening, as an entertaining affair on Terry Fox Field saw the visiting Vancouver side outscore their hosts 4–2.
Coming into the game after a 5–1 victory over the Fraser Valley All-Stars a week previously, the Clan was in confident mood. However, the Whitecaps represented a step-up in the level of opposition for coach Schneider’s side as their pre-season preparations continued.
The game started at pace, with both sides creating chances early on. A dangerous cross into the middle from SFU’s Marcello Polisi was cleared to safety by Sem de Wit, before Whitecaps midfielder Will Seymore produced a fierce half-volley that rattled the frame of the SFU goal from the edge of the penalty area.
The Whitecaps enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, yet it was SFU who was presented with a golden chance to take the lead on 24 minutes. A shot by Adam Jones was fumbled by Whitecaps goalkeeper Sean Melvin, and the following scramble saw SFU awarded a penalty following a foul on Kyle Jones. However, Melvin redeemed himself by producing a terrific save to deny Kyle Jones from the resulting spot kick, diving low to his left to keep the teams tied.
Just five minutes later, there was another penalty for the crowd to get excited about. A Whitecaps corner was only half-cleared by SFU and de Wit was fouled in the act of shooting, leaving the referee little choice but to award the penalty. Thomas Sanner stepped up to drill his effort into the bottom corner and give his side a 1–0 lead.
SFU responded in the best possible way. Out of nothing, Mamadi Camara fashioned himself some space with a clever give-and-go move, before his first-time shot from 18 yards found the top corner to level the scores once more. The score remained at 1–1 as the two sides headed off at halftime.
Much like the first, the second half started at pace. Camara’s pull-back found Polisi in the penalty area, but the Coquitlam native scuffed his shot and failed to test the goalkeeper.
Both sides refused to give an inch, with the Clan and the Whitecaps equally as tenacious in their harrying of the other when looking to win back possession.
It took until the 69th minute for the deadlock to be broken, and it went the way of the Whitecaps. David Norman’s corner kick was headed in by Gloire Amanda, with Clan goalkeeper Victor Gouchee unable to keep the effort out, despite getting a glove to the ball.
Then, on 77 minutes, came the goal of the night. A hanging cross was watched all the way by Whitecaps winger Ryan Dhillon, who produced a superb left-footed volley from just inside the penalty area to leave Gouchee in the SFU goal with no chance. He took the score to 3–1 in favour of the Whitecaps.
To their credit, SFU continued to show the willingness and fight required to get back into the game. They were rewarded with their second goal five minutes from time, as Rahid Rahiem’s cross was headed back across goal by Dzenan Bezdrob to provide Riley Pang with the simplest of finishes and cut the deficit to a single goal.
However, it wasn’t to be for the Clan. As they went in search of the equalizer, the Whitecaps broke away to score their fourth goal, leaving the final score at 4–2 in the visitors’ favour.
Speaking after the match, head coach Clint Schneider commended his players for their effort on the night.
“I was proud of the way we responded after the missed PK and conceding the first goal. We don’t play teams that good usually, so it was a really good test for our guys. They’re a good side with a lot of really talented young players. At the end of the day, that’s the way the scoreline should read, but I was really proud of the guys tonight,” he said.
“We now know we’re good enough to play at the tempo required to win a national championship. We have the tools to do it. The young guys stepped up well and I’m excited about the future of this program — the future’s really bright up here on the mountain.”