Pali did their job this final weekend of the 2010 regular season with a 4:0 slaughter of the Colorado Rush. For our Sounders, one goal wouldn't prove enough against the Whitecaps in Victoria and Pali has taken the final spot in the W-League's Western Conference Final.
Our ladies battled hard in Victoria and controlled the run of play during the first half. Vancouver had their opportunities, but possession clearly favored the girls in Blue. That possession finally payed off just before additional time as Jocelyn Charette took a powerful kick from keeper Katie Hultin, beat a defender, and slammed the ball into the aggressive Whitecap keeper Siobhan Chamberlain. When Siobhan couldn't control the ball, Charette stepped over her and cleanly netted the ball high into the far corner from inside the 6. The halftime whistle blew shortly thereafter and our girls headed into the lockerroom in a good position.
Editor's Note: The Whitecaps Match Report describes their halftime deficit as a "shock" and our goal as a "comedy of errors." Though Vancouver had their chances in the first half, don't be fooled by the arrogance of our neighbors to the north; they were a step slow to the ball the majority of the half, looked uncharacteristically flat, and the lead was well earned by our Lady Sounders.
The final half, however, was a different story. Though Charette again beat the keeper and nearly reenacted her first-half goal less than five minutes into the second. The Whitecaps pressed hard for 35 minutes and controlled play for nearly the remainder of the game. Missing two key defenders, Kelli Smith and Jamie Coe, our relatively makeshift backline began to wear down. At right outside-back, Kelly Irving, typically a pressing midfielder, battled hard against the skilled Vancouver attack and thwarted several runs and combinations.
M'ily Reiter came on in the 60th minute and brought with her an offensive spark for our Sounders, but the experienced Vancouver attack found an equalizer in the form of a gorgeous corner in the 67th minute. A corner, mind you, earned shortly after a criminal dive, and let me reemphasize this, Whitecap Winger Melissa Tancredi made a fool of the head referee as she was a good three feet from Irving when she flopped to the ground just beyond the corner of the 18. The ensuing free kick was cleared over the touchline, resulting in a corner. That corner, taken by Chelsea Stewart, found an unmarked Emily Zurrer. The Canadian International and Vancouver Island native slammed it past Sounder netminder, Hultin, who had absolutely no chance at a save.
Our girls fought hard for the remainder of the half. Though we created a few chances, including several desperate attempts and combinations over the final 10 minutes, we simply could not find that breakthrough ball to finish off the Whitecaps and beat their English keeper.
In the end, the whistle tweeted three times and our 2010 campaign came to a close.
Great passion and fight ladies! Work hard this offseason, enjoy Surf Cup this weekend, and let's TAKE 'EM ALL IN 2011!!!
See you on the Terrace!