League1 BC Women: All to play for in second half of the season as four teams in championship contention

League1 BC Women: All to play for in second half of the season as four teams in championship contention

[For the basis of this round-up, we’ll be looking at matches played from Sunday June 12th to Sunday June 19th]

As the inaugural League1 BC campaign moves into the second half of the season, the three horse race that was building may have added another runner, with the top three teams dropping some points and Unity FC starting to find their feet and looking set to make a late run.

It’s been a fantastic week or so of L1BC action, with some absolutely cracking matches, goals, and individual performances and the second half of the season is shaping up to be very entertaining and exciting.

The unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps’ lead the way after a seven point haul from their three matches over the past eight days, but the two points they dropped in their first outing may have big implications down the stretch.

That game on June 12th was a highly entertaining 1-1 draw at Ken Woods Field with an in-form TSS Rovers side who are one of the teams pushing hard for a place in the championship game come August.

In one of the most pulsating games we’ve seen in either division all season, this game was end to end stuff, with both defences and goalkeepers kept very busy. Mia Pante opened the scoring for TSS on the stroke of half time, cutting inside and burying a beauty into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

The Whitecaps got back on level terms 11 minutes into the second half when the consistently impressive Jamie Perrault ran into the Rovers box and tucked it away into the far corner.

How there were no more goals in this one, I don’t know, but both teams will have been disappointed to only come away with one point at the end of it and it could prove costly for one of these sides come the end of the season. I already can’t wait for these two teams meeting again next month.

You can see our fantastic photos from Residual Image from the match below:

League1 BC Women: Vancouver Whitecaps v TSS Rovers (12/06/2022)

That draw was TSS’ Rovers only game in the period and you have to hope that their 11 days off won’t kill their momentum. They’ve been on a roll of late, taking 10 points from their last four matches to sit third in the L1BC standings, and delighting head coach Chelsey Hannesson, but knowing that there could have been a full 12 taken.

“They lived up to the fact that these two teams are sitting at the top of the table and they really put on a show,” Hannesson told AFTN after the match. “This team was hungry. It’s funny, we’re walking away with a point, but we’re feeling disappointed.

“It’s definitely something that we thought we had a good plan and we were going to execute. There were a couple of moments where if we had just executed on that last pass and that final zone, I think we would have walked away with the three points and it would have been a different situation.”

The important thing for TSS was to make sure that they came away with something. A defeat would have seen them six points back of the Whitecaps and in such a short season, that is a lot to have to make up.

But the Rovers are now hitting their stride, going undefeated after losing their season opener and Hannesson feels the team is just getting better and better and more cohesive with every game.

“We’re seeing unity,” Hannesson told us. “This team has come together in a short time and you can hear it and feel it in the locker room how bad they just want to compete and compete for each other. There’s a nostalgia that this group has. They’ve played together years ago a few of them.

“Even though they weren’t together as a team as a whole, there were little bits here, little bits there. They’ve played together as youth and to see that start to gel and come together, you can see it start to figure itself out on the field as well.”

While TSS got a little break, the Whitecaps were right back at it on Wednesday night at Ken Woods Field with a hard fought 2-1 win over a steadily improving Altitude FC team in a game that marked the midway point of their season.

It was the second and final meeting of the two sides this season and the game produced the same scoreline, and just as in the first game, the ‘Caps went in at the half with a two goal lead.

This time it was Olivia Ahern who fired them into the lead, with a beautiful strike from the edge of the box that flew past Sarah Loewen and into the top left corner.

Both teams were moving the ball well, with Loewen forced to make a few saves, but the Whitecaps doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime when Ava Wright sent a cross into the box, Loewen couldn’t keep hold of it, and Anna Hauer was in the right spot to tuck it away from a few yards out.

Altitude pushed for a way back into it in the second half, but had to wait until stoppage time to finally pull one back, scoring from the spot after a foul in the box.

There wasn’t enough time to launch a more dramatic comeback and the ‘Caps came away with the single goal victory.

Two home games in the books, the Whitecaps were on the road this past Sunday, heading into the interior for a first meeting with Rivers FC in Kamloops.

Perrault gave the Whitecaps a first half lead, finishing a corner off at the back post, but they had to wait until just past the hour mark to double their lead when Hauer made it two in two with a strike from another corner. Kierra Blundell sealed the deal in second half stoppage time with a finish to the far corner to give the ‘Caps the 3-0 victory.

Those big seven points see the Whitecaps top the table on 19 points, four ahead of their nearest challengers Varsity FC and nine ahead of TSS. Both of those teams now have at least one game in hand on the Whitecaps, but points on the board are the most important thing and it’s leaving the ‘Caps sitting pretty and delighting head coach Katie Collar.

“I think it’s been great,” Collar told AFTN about the L1BC season so far. “A lot of the other programs and clubs have done a great job of building their teams. They’ve been competitive. Whether the score is 2-1 or 5-1, it’s been competitive games and it’s pushing the kids, so I think it’s been great.”

But don’t bank on the Whitecaps booking one of those two championship game spots just yet, as a rankle will see their squad depth tested to the full.

Wednesday’s game against Altitude marked the last home game for seven key senior players who will be moving on the college, and they were honoured by the ‘Caps before the match started.

They septet another game together still to play but after that the ‘Caps squad will get even younger, not that that holds too much concern for Collar.

“We’re going to miss our seniors, of course,” Collar told us. “They’re a big part of the team, good leaders. I think it’s a great test for our young ones and it’s an exciting opportunity for us to see if they’re ready.”

Despite Unity slowly getting back into things, it still does primarily look like a three horse race between the Whitecaps, TSS, and Varsity for the two championship spots, and Collar has been very impressed with her two rivals over the first half of the season.

“They’re both fantastic teams,” Collar said. “They’ve got some really good players, some U20 internationals, so us in a couple of years really. It’ll be a good test as we continue to play them and have our young ones come through, but for me, I’ve still got my money on the young ones.”

And it is hard to bet against them the way they’ve been playing.

The third of the trio, Varsity FC, also had a three games in eight days spell, and it saw them suffer their first loss of the season in the middle of it to really open up the championship picture.

June 12th saw Varsity comfortably dispatch Rivers FC 3-0 at Thunderbird Stadium. Emma Regan fired Varsity into an 11th minute lead in that one with a stunning free kick before Aman Shergill scored from close range to double the home side’s lead. Vanessa Tome had the chance to put the game to bed from the spot four minutes from time, but her effort crashed off the bar and out. She wasn’t to be denied though, running in on goal a minute later, rounding the keeper, and adding Varsity’s third.

Varsity were in action three days later at UBC’s Dhillon Field but suffered their first loss, and first dropped points, of the season in a surprise 3-1 loss to Unity FC.

Katelyn Erhardsen had put Varsity into a 25th minute lead when she picked off a loose ball, bore down on goal, and finished to the far corner, but the Langley side were to come storming back, when Makenna Dieterich finished from close range after a scramble in the home side’s six yard box.

The second half saw Unity go ahead through a Jacqueline Tyrer own goal two minutes after the restart when the ball unluckily bounced off her, then the visitors took control of the game.

After spurning numerous chances, Unity finally got their decisive third goal to seal the points seven minutes from time when Grace Ven den Brink nudged the ball home on the line after Dieterich’s shot had got past Dakota Beckett in the Varsity goal.

A big three points for Unity that breathed new life into their campaign and saw Varsity have to deal with adversity for the first time this season.

The question now was how would Varsity respond in their next match at Kinsmen Field in North Vancouver against Altitude this past Sunday?

The answer was they were made to work very hard for it, needing a stoppage time Tome goal to grab the narrowest of 1-0 wins in a pulsating end to end match that saw both keepers put in very solid showings and both teams produce a plethora of chances.

The victory kept Varsity in the title picture, but was a heart-breaking gut punch for Altitude, who battled so hard and were the better side for much of the match.

Altitude have been improving with every game and their last two losses will certainly be hard to take with how well they’ve been playing.

They can take consolation though from having secured their first win of the season on June 12th when they headed over to the island and came away with a big 3-2 win over the Highlanders in Victoria to grab their first win in club history.

Meagan Faulkner had given the Highlanders an 8th minute lead but Altitude came roaring back to tie things up when Allie Hughes-Goyette tied things up in the 21st. Maya Morrell then hit a 20 yard thunderbolt in first half stoppage time to send the North Van side in with the lead.

Kayla Campbell then put Altitude 3-1 up four minutes after the restart, and although Kiara Kilby reduced the deficit again just two minutes later, the visitors saw out the rest of the half to claim their first ever win.

Victoria were in action again this past Sunday when they headed to Langley to face Unity.

The home side have had a tough start to the campaign with their first five matches coming against the top three sides, but with a favourable second half of the season schedule, they will fancy their chances of getting right back into the championship picture if they can go on a run.

And they made it back to back wins with a 2-1 victory of the Highlanders.

Scoreless at the half, the impressive Tilly James continued her recent good form in an offensive role with the game’s opener a minute into the second half before Dietrich continued her own good week with a second on the hour mark.

Jessa Vance put the ball into her own net with 20 minutes remaining to set up a nervy ending, but Unity held on for another very big three points.

You can see our fantastic photos from Residual Image from the match below:

League1 BC Women: Unity FC v Highlanders FC (19/06/2022)

So after all of that action, the League1 BC women’s division standings look as follows:

There’s been some fantastic games so far, with more to come. It should be a cracking second half of the season.

You can find all the results, fixtures, and standings at League1BC.ca.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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