Victoria Highlanders FC (2-5-0) were unable to find a late equalizer in a tough 2-1 result versus rivals TSS FC Rovers (4-1-1), June 3 at Swangard Stadium in what turned out to be an action-packed evening.
Zach Verhoven scored twice for the home side Rovers, while Highlanders captain Callum Montgomery scored late for the Highlanders.
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Following a massive three points on Friday evening head coach Thomas Niendorf continued with the 3-5-2 formation. With only a few changes to Friday’s lineup which saw Mitchell Popadynetz drop to the midfield and Stuart Heath starting up front, the Highlanders kicked off Sunday night.
From the opening whistle, the Highlanders were set as a unit. At 10-minutes, striker Cory Bent found his way through a number of TSS players before sending the ball just high.
At 16-minutes, Highlanders had a great set piece taken by Marcus Campanile that stopped by Mario Gerges. TSS came back the other way, with winger Verhoven drilling a shot in from outside of the 18-yard box to beat Victoria goalkeeper Nolan Wirth for the 1-0 lead.
TSS’s quick counter-attack resulted in a second goal less than 10 minutes later, with Verhoven once again finding himself at the end of a great play on 23-minutes to double the home side’s lead at 2-0.
As the half continued to take shape, TSS Forward Nick Soolsma made a great run through the Highlanders backline but was stopped by Highlander’s captain Callum Montgomery.
The Highlanders continued to control possession throughout the half.
At 38-minutes Highlanders had their best chance of the half, when Victoria’s Cam Hundal tried to capitalize on a TSS mistake but was unable to find a way past TSS’s ‘keeper Mario Gerges. Only minutes later Hundal found a way through once again but was stopped yet again by Gerges.
Highlanders entered half time down two goals.
The action carried over into the start of the second half, with TSS’s Soolsma hitting a great free kick that came off the crossbar.
The debut of Mackenzie Cole at 61-minutes to lead the squad at the front reignited the visiting team’s energy. The Highlanders continued to push forward, looking for a chance to cut TSS’s lead in half.
The Highlanders found a breakthrough at 91-minutes with a goal from Montgomery. Despite this goal the visitors ran out of time dropping three points versus TSS.
The Highlanders return to Centennial Stadium Sunday, June 17 versus Canadian rival Calgary Foothills FC. Kick-off is set for 2:00 p.m. PST. For more information, please visit www.highlandersfc.ca.
VHFC: Montgomery (91’)
TSS: Verhoven (38’, 43’)
TSS: Guilherme (70’)