On a blistering hot day in BC’s capital, the Victoria Highlanders took the field against the Kitsap Pumas. The Highlanders had previously been destroyed by the Pumas during their opening match, only to have the result overturned because of Kitsap registering too many over-age players. With the first match having ended as a 3-o blow-out, Sunday’s match would serve as a great measuring stick of how far the Highlanders improved since coming together. Furthermore, Kitsap is fresh off a US Open Cup win against USL-side Sacramento Republic. With a crowd of 478 people looking on and downing Canadian in 30 Celsius, it was an important match.

Bryan Taylor, Highlanders #10, takes the first corner kick of the match.

Bryan Taylor, Highlanders #10, takes the first corner kick of the match.

The Pumas opened up the scoring very early in the match. Kitsap forward #22, Daniel Davidson, dodged past a tight looking defensive line and managed a soft goal. Although not the greatest shot, anything that goes in the net is a good goal. For the Pumas, it would unfortunately be their last goal of the match. Less than 3 minutes later, the Highlanders responded with a swift shot courtesy of Midfielder Chris Rushworth. The game was locked down in the 23′ with a second goal courtesy of Cam Hundal, Highlanders #23 Midfield. By this point, the East Stands were too hot for most to stomach, so many Lake Side Buoys & fans moved to the covered West Side stands, the South-End Strathcona Beer Garden, or the nearby grassy hill to see some shelter from the scorcher. The remainder of the half had Highlanders firmly on the defensive, with Kitsap sending ball after ball high over the net.

Kitsap Pumas struggle, sending shot after shot well above the Highlanders' net.

Kitsap Pumas struggle, sending shot after shot well above the Highlanders’ net.

The second half started off where the first half left off, but with Kitsap subbing out their keeper. Aside from an occasional rush, most of the second half was spent deep in the Highlander’s half. Kitsap would bring it up, and Victoria would pick it off, head for the centre line, and then lose it back to the Pumas. Every now and again, the visitors would put a boot or head on the ball, and aim for the International Space Station. With most of the 2nd half spent with the Highlanders on defense, the ability to move the ball forward seemed to be quite lacking. Still, when they did get it forward, there was little to stop them. Highlanders’ midfielders Ryan Dhillon managed to score a pair of impressive goals in the 82′ & 83′, sending the home team up 4-1. A foul in the 90′ led to Kitsap taking a PK on the Highlanders’ Watson. The shot, in all its glory:

It was a simple matter for the Highlanders to run out the remainder of injury time and grab their first real W of the season. It’s amazing the difference a few weeks can make. From a team whose defense left gaps wide enough to run a highway through, to a tight group able to fend off nearly 65′ of dangerous, albeit orbit-targeted, attacks. The Highlanders (5 matches, 8 pts) now sit 3rd in the Northwest Division after the Calgary Foothills (4 matches, 9pts) and Washington Crossfire (6 matches, 9 pts). The Highlanders are up for a double-header on June 10th & 12th in Calgary, with the team’s next home match will be 25th June at 7:00 pm.

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