June 19, 2024
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League1 BC Catch Up – Week 5: The Pack Begins To Separate

By on May 31, 2023 0 731 Views

Week 5 of the 2023 League1 BC season is in the books and it brought Canadian footy fans six games (last Wednesday’s Harbourside vs Whitecaps match plus this weekends five games) worth of action!

To keep things fresh for you, the reader, rather than going one by one through the games as per normal, I will be taking a page out of my colleague Eddie Benhin’s book and do a power rankings for this week of matchups! So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Photo Credit: Sarah Parker / @MatchOneMedia

8th place – Rivers FC

Rivers has had quite the up and down season so far in 2023. The men sit comfortably within striking distance of a podium place at seven points and are coming off a dominating 4-1 win last weekend over Altitude. The women on the other hand seem to be lacking the chemistry to string together enough goals for a win while also keeping their opponents from finding the back of theirs.

This weekend was a different story, and not in a good way. An on-fire Unity team thrashed both Rivers sides 6-1 and 7-nil for the women and men respectively. Emily Edmundson stood strong to try and keep her team alive while men’s head coach John Antulov would pull his starter Olivier Jumeau after the first half and 5 goals against only for Marshall Herald to let in another two before the final whistle.

Photo Credit: Harbourside FC

7th place – Harbourside FC

One of three teams to have two match-ups this week and the only one to walk away without a win. There’s not too much to say about the performances by Nanaimo’s L1 side against the Whitecaps’ academies on Wednesday and then in the North Shore against Altitude FC except that they were sort of underwhelming.

I had contemplated putting Harbourside in 8th placed due to the fact they had double the chances for points than Rivers did, but the men’s team did gain two points on the week, including in a feisty 2-2 draw versus the undefeated Whitecaps Academy. That game would have given Harbourside a dub had it not been for their inability clear a ball in their six yard box, leading to a beautiful bicycle kick goal by WFC’s Chris Album.

Photo Credit: @tomazphoto_ / Altitude FC

6th place – Altitude FC

As an Altitude fan myself (don’t you worry, avid reader, I keep my fandom and my journalism separated), it saddens me to have to report on Altitude’s 2023 campaign so far. A team with such potential has yet to garner more than a handful of wins between the two teams it fields, and unfortunately that trend continued this week.

The men have yet to get a win in 2023 but were able to bring home another point as they forced a stalemate with Harbourside FC, having recovered from the 4-1 loss to Rivers last week. The women are faring better than the men this season, and this week marked their third win of the campaign. On a two-game win streak now having beaten Rivers 2-0 last week, Lulie Macfarlane’s – who was a late switch to the starting eleven – 45th minute goal made all the difference on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Whitecaps MLS Academy / @WFCAcademy

5th place – TSS Rovers

This past Saturday’s game between the reigning champs and the Whitecaps academies displayed the type of soccer we are used to from Burnaby’s TSS Rovers. Travelling into enemy territory, the Rovers were entering the home of a powerhouse; the two WFC academies were undefeated going into Saturday and yet the Rovers were able to get the most out of both of their squads.

The men went down early after a 14th minute goal by WFC’s Michael Hennessy but were then able to mount their own attack while holding back the ‘Caps’ attack for the remaining 76 minutes. As for the women, goals by Delana Friesen and Kyara Armenta were enough to make up for a poor defensive ball in the ’10 which gave the WFC girls their only goal of the match. Both teams now sit mid-table and will be receiving the struggling Rivers next weekend.

Photo Credit: Victoria Highlanders FC

4th place – Victoria Highlanders FC

Nothing could dampen this home coming, especially not when it was two days of action at the University of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium! Fans of semi-pro soccer in the provincial capital are treated to a total of 360 minutes of fantastic soccer between three teams who have been on fire recently: the hosting Highlanders, and visitors Unity and Nautsa’mawt FC.

The men claimed second place with their win over Unity as, even though they went down 1-0 early on, a rallying effort by Steve Siminson’s men would eventually steal all three points. His team’s defense would hold mostly strong as well against Nautsa’mawt despite the one and only goal by Ethan Gopaul.

The women would also gain a point in their home opener as they would draw Unity but ultimately would fall 4-1 the next day to an unbelievably powerful women’s Nautsa’mawt side. Both teams are showing real promise this season and have the chance to challenge for the L1BC title and the Juan De Luca Plate this year should their strong attacks continue.

Photo Credit: Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Academy / @WFCElite

🥉 – Whitecaps Academy / WFC Elite

There is an ungodly level of chemistry between the men and women in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ academies. Their passing, their shooting, and their touches are all so mesmerizing to watch. For example, just watch the passes leading up the the WFC girls Elite’s fourth goal against Harbourside last week.

Out of a possible 12 points over their four matches this past week, the Whitecaps were able to claim 7 of them with the WFC elite winning over Harbourside FC decisively, while the men brought home a win on the road over the TSS Rovers while drawing the aforementioned Harbourside, including a beautiful bicycle kick by Chris Album.

Nautsa'mawt FC Women's Goal
Photo Credit: Tom Ewasiuk / AFTN

🥈 – Nautsa’mawt FC

Nautsa’mawt have done well to maintain Varsity FC’s dominance last season, including an undefeated season so far for Point Grey’s women’s side. This week, the teams travelled with ‘One Heart and One Mind’ to Victoria and, despite the homecoming for their opponents, Nautsa’mawt decided to play the role of spoiler and left with a double victory after all was said and done.

As per Nautsa’mawt’s regularly-scheduled programming, the stars shone bright on Sunday. Ethan Gopaul, Kat Tolnai, and Vanessa Tome all netted decisive goals against the Highlanders alongside stellar goalkeeping performances by Bennett Mckay, Dakota Beckett, and Lita Billman who held off all but one shot.

Photo Credit: Sarah Parker / @MatchOneMedia

🥇 – Unity FC

Unity is most definitely reading my articles in their dressing room as motivational fodder and it’s clearly working. After last week’s clash of titans win and draw for the men’s and women’s against Nautsa’mawt, they visited Victoria and Chilliwack – we’ll come back to this – to gain seven points on the weekend to keep both teams on two extremely competitive podiums.

We’ve already spoken about Unity’s trip to Victoria but it was their home game in Chilliwack, BC of all places that would prove to be the decisive games of their weekend. Firstly, this road trip for both clubs brought out a strong showing of local football fans to the 2,500-seat Exhibition Stadium in downtown Chilliwack. Whether this represents next steps of future L1BC expansion, possibly with a partnership with the nearby University of Fraser Valley campus, is still to be seen – but it is clear that there is an appetite for club in this part of the mainland.

As for the games themselves, a 7-0 and 6-1 dual victory for the Langley-based side proved that this is a different team from last season, one that is a real threat to the big names like the TSS Rovers and Nautsa’mawt. Unity would treat the Chilliwack crowd to two hat tricks by Seina Kashima and Victory Shumbusho while six other of their club mates would make up the rest of the blow out.

This upcoming weekend sees more balanced schedule with all eight teams in action but with only one game a piece. It all starts on Saturday with Altitude crossing Vancouver Harbour and over to UBC to take on Nautsa’mawt while Rivers travel to Burnaby to visit TSS at Swangard. Sunday has the Victoria Highlanders hosting their big city cousins in the Whitecaps while Unity finally host their home opener against the league’s newest team, Harbourside FC.

Select games from this weekend will be streamed live on the League1 BC YouTube channel, while other select matches may be streamed or uploaded to watch On-Demand on YouTube.

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