Highlanders FC

Victoria Highlanders FC (4-1-1) host Calgary Foothills FC (4-2-2) in a pair of matches this weekend in Week 8 of the USL League Two regular season, June 21st (7:15 PM PST KO) and June 23rd (2:00 PM PST KO) at the University of Victoria’s (UVic) Centennial Stadium. The matches will showcase two of the top teams in the Northwest Division, with the Foothills sitting in first place and holding a one point lead over the second place Highlanders and third place Lane United FC.

The Highlanders will play their second and third straight home game at Centennial Stadium after a well-earned 6-0 win over Portland Timbers U23 on Sunday, June 16th. The match will be streamed online through the Highlanders Official YouTube Channel.

VICTORIA HIGHLANDERS FC
The Victoria side enters the weekend having climbed within a point of the first place Foothills after defeating Timbers U23 by a 6-0 score. Daniel Davidson, finishing the match with a brace and an assist, Goteh Ntignee, also finishing with a brace, and Shun Takano all scored their first goals of the season while Elyad Shojaei scored his second goal of the season to round out the scoring. Victory Shumbusho picked up two assists and a game-high six points while Simon Norgrove pick up his second clean sheet of the season.

“We had a new look for the team today, with three players starting for the first time and bringing in two young players in Goteh and Keenen,” stated Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf. “We had a good training week and we were prepared for it. We wanted to work on our defensive approach to press a little bit higher and to close down the space. They’re a very good team technically, and very structured in their game. We also wanted to capitalize on our chances offensively and working on the spirit and mentality of us as a team always carries us forward. It was a good game to remind everyone that everything starts on putting emphasis on teamwork. We had some great performances from the boys today, and they came together as a team. We want players to have confidence and to not be afraid to stand up for themselves. It was a good win at home, and we played the way we knew we could.”

The Highlanders’ previous five games include a 1-1 draw against Lane United FC that saw Elyad Shojaei score a beautiful one-touch goal off a Shumbusho set up. Then the Victoria side’s first win of the season came off a 2-0 result against Timbers U23 with goals coming from Sean Young, off a long-distance strike, and Victory Shumbusho, a well aimed shot off the far post and in. The Highlanders’ third game of the season was a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders U23 that featured a USL League Two Goal of the Week from Joshua Walter off a perfect free-kick and the first goal of the season for Connor Guilherme after he dribbled the ball past the defenders. The Highlanders suffered their first defeat of the season in a 3-0 decision to Lane United FC. Their next game saw the Highlanders play in their first road game of the season and pick up their first road win of the season after beating Vancouver TSS FC Rovers 1-0 off a converted Shumbusho penalty kick and secured the first leg of the Juan De Fuca Plate. In the Rovers’ match, Trevor Schneider picked up the clean sheet in his first start of the season.

Through four games the Highlanders have received goals from Shumbusho (2), Young, Walter, Guilherme, Davidson (2), Ntignee (2), Takano and Shojaei (2), with Shumbusho leading in assists with three and shots with 13. The Highlanders have received clean sheets from both Trevor Schneider and Simon Norgrove (2).

Calgary Foothills FC
The Foothills travel to Victoria after having Week 7 off from competition. Calgary visits Centennial Stadium with a 4-2-2 record and a one-point lead over the second place Highlanders in the Northwest Division.

The defending USL League Two champions started off the 2019 season with three straight wins and one tie; 1-0 over Seattle Sounders U23, 2-1 against Vancouver TSS FC Rovers, 3-2 over Vancouver TSS FC Rovers, and a 1-1 draw against Vancouver TSS FC Rovers. In the four games since, the Foothills have posted a 1-2-1 record.

Their first loss of the season came at the hands of Portland Timbers U23 in a game that saw the home side take a 2-1 victory. That loss was followed up by a 1-1 tie in the weekend series finale against that same Timbers’ squad. Calgary returned home to host Seattle Sounders U23 in a pair of weekend matches. The Foothills took the first match by a 2-1 score and earned their fourth win of the season. The last match played by Calgary was a 2-0 loss to the Sounders, the Foothills first home loss in almost four years.

Oluwatofarati Fakunle has led the offensive attack for the Calgary side this year, posting a team-high four goals and 13 shots on the season. Former Highlander Cory Bent leads the team with two assists.

With a strong mix of talent and chemistry the Highlanders understand that this weekend is a very good test to see who measures up in the Northwest Division. Highlanders’ coach Thomas Niendorf is looking forward to the match and believes that his young team has a great opportunity this weekend.

“We just have to keep everything in perspective. I think we have given ourselves a good position in the league, but we are behind two or three games towards most of the opponents and that’s not easy to make up. You look at this and say, ‘we have two games in hand’ but you still need to win those games,” added Niendorf. “We have worked for an opportunity to take a really good step forward tomorrow with a game against Calgary, but I think it’s more important that we play with the style we have incorporated and the approach we are taking. We need to trust ourselves and our style and continue to develop our game and really focus on our own strengths. We need to respect the opposition at the same time, Foothills of course is a very successful club at this level and have a great mentality and organization, always bringing in top talent. It’s a very good measuring stick for us to see where we stand. We want to focus on ourselves, perform the way we feel we are capable of and make sure we put the work forward.”

2018 SEASON SERIES
The Highlanders and Foothills FC played each other three times last season, with the eventual 2018 champions taking all three games.

Victoria started the 2018 USL League Two season with a pair of matches in Calgary that saw the home side take a 2-0, May 11th, and a 1-0 win, May 13th, in Alberta. The teams squared off again when the Foothills visited Centennial Stadium on June 17th and walked away with a 4-1 win. Highlander veteran Mackenzie Cole picked up the lone goal for the Victoria side.