VANCOUVER, BC – League 1 BC may have only kicked off less than a month ago, but the brief inaugural season has already reached the quarter mark of the campaign. With fans packing the stands at Rivers, Altitude and TSS Rovers, the league has seen a surprising following.
Solely on the pitch, however, the club without the grandstand sits atop the standings, and that gets us started in our top three observations from the first quarter of the League 1 BC Women’s season. Our inaugural power rankings can be found at the bottom of the page.
Biggest surprise contenders? The Vancouver Whitecaps U19s
At the outset of the season, there were concerns about the Whitecaps U19s ability to compete with some of the highest-level university soccer teams in the country. Yet, at the quarter mark of the season, the U19s sit atop the standings and look as though they’ll be able to keep it up.
Boasting ten players from the World Cup-bound Canadian U17 Women’s National Team, the Katie Collar-led Whitecaps are tremendously young. However, their cohesiveness, technical abilities, and fitness allow them to compete with athletes up to 10 years older.
The ‘Caps opened with a 5-1 rout of the Victoria Highlanders before moving on to defeat Altitude FC 2-0, Unity FC 1-0, and the Victoria Highlanders again. Winger Iba Oching has been integral to their success, as has Ashley Roberts in front of goal and Anna Hauer in midfield.
The Whitecaps will continue to be pushed physically in every game they play. Still, their win against Unity is indicative of their true qualities and their ability to outplay and outrun other teams in this league, in part due to a much more robust training regime.
Rovers are rolling, but it took a minute
While the Whitecaps had doubts to start the season, there were far fewer when it came to the TSS Rovers. While an opening day loss to Unity brought on initial worries, Chelsey Hanneson’s side swiftly hushed doubters, thrashing Rivers FC twice and grabbing a win against Unity.
Unlike Varsity and Unity, the Rovers are an amalgamation of high-quality, mostly university players, making it no surprise that they took a game to start clicking as a team.
Aislin Streicik has been exceptional for them in the midfield, and Queen’s Gaels attacking midfielder Raya Athwal is proving to be one of the league’s most valuable players. Nevertheless, there is much to like about the Rovers as they approach tougher tests in the coming weeks, starting with a June clash with the aforementioned Whitecaps U19s.
If you need any further indication that things are coming along chemistry-wise for the Rovers, just look below at the 13-pass sequence that led to a goal against Rivers this past weekend.
Varsity’s lack of games cast a haze over the standings
The UBC Thunderbirds-based Varsity FC sits fourth in the standings but last in the matches played category. While the league-leading Whitecaps have four games and four wins to boot, Varsity has just two, albeit with two wins.
Their season kicked off a week late with an away trip to Unity FC, where they controlled the game as well as they could in a colossal downpour en route to a 2-0 victory. Following that, they picked up a 3-2 win at home over the Victoria Highlanders.
UBC midfielder Sophie Damian scored a world-class goal in their home opener but has been an engine in their attack through the first two games, posting a goal and two assists. Playing in an attacking trio, it hasn’t just been Damian, as current T-Birds teammate Katalin Tolnai has made her presence known against Thunderbirds alumni Aman Shergill.
Outside of UBC players, current Texas Longhorns Emma Regan and Holly Ward have added a claiming presence to the team, both scoring goals so far and the latter earning a Week 1 Team of the Week nod.
Having just played twice, Varsity still has time to get into their best form, one that likely involves having striker Danielle Steer scoring goals, coming off one of the best-ever Canada West campaigns.
Head Coach Jesse Symons has previous experience with most of the roster and has a winning background, leading the UBC Thunderbirds to the Canada West Final Four in each of his four years with the program and winning the 2019 U SPORTS National Championship. With that, he knows how to push the group.
Varsity FC has been perfect through their opening two matches, and with games in hand, they’ll look to continue rolling when they take on Altitude FC on Tuesday night at UBC. Every other team has played three or four times — Varsity has played just twice.
- Whitecaps FC U19
- TSS Rovers FC
- Varsity FC
- Unity FC
- Altitude FC
- Rivers FC
- Victoria Highlanders