VANCOUVER, BC – For the first time in league history, a week is in the books in League 1 BC, th new standard-based pro-am league in British Columbia. While there were undoubted hitches to the opening day, the games went on without issue, providing stellar football in Vancouver, Burnaby and Kamloops.
Six of the league’s seven teams were in action, with the UBC-based Varsity FC having the inaugural bye, before kicking off their season Thursday with a visit to Chase Office Field and Unity FC.
Unity FC v TSS Rovers
WOMEN: Rovers 2-1 Unity
In front of a packed and feverous crowd at Swangard Stadium, Canada’s first supporter-owned club, the TSS Rovers kicked off their inaugural League 1 BC season, hosting the TWU Spartans-based Unity FC.
In the women’s match, the Rovers controlled the play early before Unity found spaces on the counterattack to test Rovers goalkeeper Kirsten Tynan. Mikayla Tupper opened the scoring for Unity in the 29th minute, curling an exceptional strike past Tynan in the 29th minute.
Unity kept the pressure on after their first goal, adding a second through another blistering shot, this time off the foot of Sophie Crowther, who continued to test from long range throughout the match.
The Rovers found their attacking patterns later in the match, counting on link-up between Aislin Streicik and Isabella Muzzolini to set up a goal for former Spartan Bella Roque, who, despite her stature, barrelled in a header.
TSS continued their pressure through the final half-hour but could not beat Unity’s Hannah Miller, who was strong through the afternoon.
MEN: Rovers 1-1 Unity
On the men’s side, the Rovers and Unity got off to an equal start, with U SPORTS talent highlighting each team.
Both sides split their attacking chances as Sebastian Colyn and Justyn Sandhu stood strong in their goals. However, Unity opened the scoring in their inaugural match, as Sidrit Vukaj curled in an exquisite free-kick right in front of the Rovers’ supporters.
Siding with Team Chaos, Vukaj proceeded to take his jersey off, earning a red card and forcing his side to play with 10 men for the second half. However, at most, the call likely should have been a yellow card.
The Rovers pushed forward with the man advantage through the second half and found an equalizer in the 59th minute before their best equalizing chance ricocheted off the cross-bar.
Both the Rovers men’s and women’s teams make the trip up to Kamloops to face Rivers FC on Sunday, while Unity gets back at it on Thursday at home against Varsity FC.
Vancouver Whitecaps v Victoria Highlanders
WOMEN: Whitecaps 5-1 Highlanders
The Vancouver Whitecaps won’t be the biggest or strongest team in either the men’s or women’s division this season, but they might be the most skillful, as they showed on Sunday against the Victoria Highlanders.
The women’s match was all Vancouver, as the U19s trampled over Victoria from start to finish. However, 10 players from the Whitecaps recently played on the free-scoring Canadian women’s national U17 side that qualified for the World Cup, and they looked every part like future pros.
Anna Hauer scored the first goal in club and league history in the 22nd minute before the ‘Caps added a second through Jeneva Hernandez Gray. Hauer made it 3-1 and got her brace in the 46th minute, as the ‘Caps prevailed 5-1 victors.
For Victoria, Queen’s Gaels midfielder Sophie Miranda scored the lone goal in her debut match with the club.
MEN: Whitecaps 2-2 Highlanders
The Highlanders let this one slip, and in a 12-match season, that could prove costly. Victoria went up 2-0 by halftime but blew their lead in the second half to draw 2-2.
UVic Vike Javier Sagaste opened the scoring for Victoria after UNBC’s Kensho Ando’s pass found him in a shooting position. The Highlanders doubled their lead in the 27th minute when fellow UNB Timberwolf Cody Gysbers scored in the 27th minute.
Alessandro Comita and Tomás Peña linked up for the Whitecaps in the second half, finding their breakthrough in the 52nd minute, before Peña’s cross found Josh Tome in the 74th to level the match.
While Vancouver picked up a red card in the 76th minute, the Highlanders couldn’t cash in on the advantage, seeing out the 2-2 draw and split points.
Rivers FC vs Altitude FC
WOMEN: Rivers 2-0 Altitude
MEN: Rivers 1-1 Altitude
In a battle of teams drawing on a large contingent of collegiate-level players, Atltiude and Rivers started their club history in Kamloops with two tight matches. Both teams had potential for points in both matches, coming from similar roster builds.
Rivers picked up the three points with a 2-0 victory to start their home campaign perfectly on the women’s side. SMU’s Emily Clark and Camryn Curts scored for Rivers in front of over 500 fans, while Altitude’s Kelsey Fisher kept her team in the match with a critical penalty stop.
On the men’s side, the two teams drew 1-1, but the clubs or league released no goalscorer names. Overall, both clubs did not make much information available from the matches, something that will have to be improved on as the brief season progresses.
Ben Steiner, with files from AFTN Canada (Michael McColl)