A little give-and-go. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

The Victoria Highlanders kicked off their 2019 season at the University of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium Friday night against Lane United. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Highlanders got on the board first with a short curl of a kick from three-metres out, Elyad Shojaei popped a little shot to the right corner. The play started in the Highlanders end, where one of the Highlander’s fullbacks sent a deep cross to Victory Shumbusho, who fed Shojaei in the middle – they played give-and-go before the deposit was made at the 12’ mark.

Shumbusho joined the Highlanders April 8 after completing his second year with the UBC Thunderbirds. His 2018 UBC campaign helped the Thunderbirds capture their second-straight U Sport – Canada West title, while the Burnaby Central Secondary grad finished with six goals and two assists for a run of 14 points in 13 matches. According to the Highlanders, he brings a well-rounded game to Coach Thomas Niendorf’s squad.

Shojaei, meanwhile, is coming off a campaign in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League (VMSL) with the Premier Division side Rino’s Tigers. The 19-year-old finished the season with two goals and helped lead the team to a third-place finish in the division – with a 14-2-6 record, good enough for 44 points – and a run to the Imperial Cup quarter-finals.
At the 62’ mark though, Charlie Spurr got in behind the Highlander’s defense and converted his chance to tie the game at one.

At 72’ Lane’s Andrew Boyd had a nice look, but it was tracked by Highlander’s goaltender Ty Venhola who deflected the ball out.

Goal! Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Five minutes later, Thompson Rivers University’s Josh Banton’s penalty kick was stopped by a diving Albert Esquin.

Post-game, Shojaei was presented with the Highlander’s Rise & Grind MVP award for his efforts.

The Highlanders next play on Sunday, May 19 at Centennial Stadium when they host the Timbers U23 squad. Kickoff is scheduled for a 2:00 pm kickoff.