Highlanders Drop First Game Of Weekend Series 3-2 To Foothills FC
(Photo Credit: John Richardson)
CALGARY, AB - Victoria Highlanders FC (6-6-1) traveled to Mount Royal University to take on Calgary Foothills FC (8-3-2) on Friday, July 12th in the first match of a two-game weekend series between the clubs. Mackenzie Cole scored the opening goal of the game and Shun Takano scored off a second half penalty kick, but Willy Akio’s two goals paced the Foothills to a 3-2 decision.
The Highlanders were coming off a 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders U23 on Sunday, July 14th while Calgary was coming off a 1-0 win against Lane United FC. Both teams were looking to move up the Northwest Division table with a win.
The home team created the first opportunity of the game, but Trevor Schneider turned aside a point-blank shot in the opening minutes of the match. The Highlanders struck first as Shun Takano’s cross was headed into the back of the net by Mackenzie Cole in the 10th minute to give the road team a 1-0 lead. Goteh Ntignee followed up with his own opportunity, but his shot sailed just wide of the far post. Schneider was required to make a pair of big stops, including stretching out to push a free kick over the bar, in the 18th and 24th minute to keep the lead intact.
With the offensive pressure mounting, the Foothills eventually broke through with back-to-back goals. Aribim Pepple tied the game at one in the 31st minute before Willy Akio found himself behind the defence and fired it into the back of the goal to give the Foothills a 2-1 lead in the 34th minute. Neither team was able to create much in the way of space in the later stages of the half and Calgary held the 2-1 lead after 45 minutes of play.
The first five minutes of the second half saw the Foothills come close to making it a 3-1 game, but Schneider continued his strong play as he kept the Highlanders within a goal. Victoria was given a prime opportunity to tie the game when Aly Adib was taken down in the box and the road team was awarded a penalty. Shun Takano lined up at the spot and made no mistake as his strike found the back of the net in the 67th minute to tie the game at two.
Calgary responded just minutes later on a goal against the run of play. The ball took a sharp deflection before it found Akio who fired a shot into the far side of the net for his second goal of the match in the 71st minute to give the Foothills a 3-2 lead. The Highlanders pushed everyone up the field in the final ten minutes, looking for the game tying goal, but Calgary hung on for the 3-2 win. With the loss the Highlanders were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
“This is certainly not the way we wanted to end the season. We were in this game right until the end and even had our opportunities to win it,” stated Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf. “We made a couple of mistakes that resulted in goals, but we had our chances to make it 2-0 early and to pull ahead 3-2 after Shun’s penalty kick tied the game. Credit to Foothills for taking advantage of their opportunities and seeking those opportunities out. While missing the playoffs was not the way we had envisioned the season, Sunday’s match still holds meaning for both teams and the boys will be looking to finish off the season on a positive note.”
Victoria Highlanders are back in action for their final regular season game of the 2019 USL League Two season on Sunday, July 14th as they wrap up their two-game weekender series against Calgary Foothills FC. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. MT. For more details head to www.highlandersfc.ca.
VHFC: Mackenzie Cole 10’ (Takano), Shun Takano 67’
CGY: Aribim Pepple 31’, Willy Akio 33’ (Pepple), Willy Akio 71’
VHFC: Adib 73’, Adib 82’, Ntignee 85’, Young 90’
CGY: Rendle 29’
VHFC: Aly Adib 82’
Victoria Highlanders FC
Schneider (GK); Banton, Adib (Ando 74’), Ruby, Shojaei, Young, Davidson, Cole, Popadynetz (Colley 58’), Takano, Ntignee
Calgary Foothills FC
Jackson (GK); Pritchard, Fenton, Hall, Tchemmoun, Hayfield, Campanile (Rendle 26’), Fakunle (Bartolillo 82’), Bent (Harrison 90’) Akio, Pepple (Danto 58’)
Information not available.