James Nielsen, Highlanders Communications
July 1, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) - Following a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 on Friday night, Highlanders FC travelled to Portland to take on Portland Timbers U-23 at Kiggins Bowl.
The Highlanders played a solid defensive match, converting on two opportunities to earn a 2-0 victory and earn a playoff spot in the process.
Portland maintained the possession in the opening minutes of the match but failed to produce significant scoring chances, their best opportunity coming at the 11-minute mark, when Zack Foxhaven fired on net from ten yards out that went wide right. Following Foxhaven's opportunity, Jose Ribas received the ball behind the Highlanders defense getting a shot off that also went wide right at 16-minutes.
At 17 minutes the Highlanders received their first corner opportunity, the shot taken by Tyler Hughes and eventually found itself at Blair Sturrock's feet after a scramble in front of the net. Sturrock then knocked it in to put the Highlanders up 1-0.
The Highlanders next offensive chance came at 26-minutes when good ball movement by the Highlanders resulted in a free kick opportunity from the 20-yard mark that Levis fired high.
At 32-minutes Foxhaven broke in once again, firing a shot that Highlander goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou swallowed up.
Andrew Ravenhill broke in at 37-minutes of the game, sprinting to the left corner with the ball before firing a cross pass that was broken up by the Timbers defense. The first half would end with the Highlanders up by a goal.
Both sides exchanged shots in the opening two minutes of the second half, with Mitrou swallowing yet another chance by Foxhaven.
The Highlanders continued to play a strong defensive match, allowing Portland ball possession but not allowing any clear-cut chances during that time.
At 71-minutes, Ravenhill took down Hewitt and was assessed a yellow card. Following the free kick the ball was knocked out of play, which resulted in a corner. The Timbers would fail to set up a significant scoring chance with their opportunity.
At 75-minutes Levis found himself one-on-one with the Timbers defender, dribbling the ball before ringing it off the crossbar. Nine minutes later, Levis would be taken down when breaking in on the 15-yard mark, the play would draw a yellow card on Mark Daus but the free kick would go high over the bar.
Great ball movement by the Highlanders up the field resulted in another Levis chance. The first-year Highlander made no mistake on this opportunity, breaking around the defense and firing one into the back of the net at 87-minutes to put the Highlanders up 2-0. The goal would be all the Highlanders would need, winning the match and creating a six-point gap between them and the Timbers in the Northwest Division.
Highlanders FC host Victoria United Wednesday night at Royal Athletic Park. Kick-off is set for 7:00pm. For more information please visit www.victoriahighlandersfc.com