Varsity Vs Highlanders (Women): How the teams match Up

VANCOUVER — Coming off an impressive 2-0 win against Unity FC last Thursday, Varsity FC will be looking to make it two wins out of two when they face off against a formidable Highlanders side in their League 1 home opener.

Varsity FC’s campaign started as well as they could have hoped for, as the team asserted themselves as the dominant side over the course of the 90 minutes. The cohesion and organization displayed by Varsity were nothing short of impressive: Unity rarely had chances at scoring, and their shots at goal were subpar at best. Varsity’s first goal came in the 35th minute, courtesy of a well-worked and intricate build-up that saw Sophie Damian neatly cut it back across the 6-yard line to an open Holly Ward, who calmly finished into the side-netting after her first attempt was partially blocked. Victory was ensured in the 83rd minute after Aman Shergill’s blistering run down the right-wing which saw her beat her defender with ease before slotting it into the far corner with the outside of her foot, reminiscent of Ricardo Quaresma’s patented “trivela” finish. Not only did Varsity’s attacking play shine on the day, the midfield four of Jenna Baxter, Sophie Damian, Samantha Donald and Emma Regan proved to be adept, dictating the pace and flow of the game for the majority of the match. Couple all this with a more-than-solid backline that repressed any sort of Unity chance, let alone an equalizer, and Varsity deservingly started their season off with a win. Regan and Ward were also named to the Team of the Week for their inspired play and consummate ability.

“It has been great to get League1 BC off the ground and the team has come together very quickly,” said head coach Jesse Symons, who now shifts his attention to a well-drilled Highlanders side. “We will continue to focus on our identity of keeping things compact and tight against Victoria and look to unlock our attacking crew.”

The team will be taking on a Highlanders side that is distinguished by their experience. Most notable are midfielder Katie Krautner and goalkeeper Emily Moore. Krautner, a former NCAA Div. 1 player at the University of Nebraska, played professionally overseas before returning back to Vancouver Island to lead Gorge FC to a senior women’s provincial championship just a couple of weeks ago. Moore, whose resume is just as if not more impressive, returns to Highlanders after spending time with top-flight FAWSL side West Ham United in England after a storied career with UBC. Symons will know all too well about Moore’s shot-stopping prowess, having coached her during UBC’s 2019 USPORTS National Championship run. Moore is still awaiting ITC clearance and so may not be eligible to play, but Varsity FC and UBC fans alike will most likely be seeing a familiar face at Thunderbird Stadium this weekend.

“The Highlanders have lots of familiar faces from UNBC, UVic and UBC,” said Symons. “It will be a highly contested match. Neil and Wes will have them playing well after a long break since their first match, so we are expecting a team that we will need to manage when they are on the ball.”

Symons’ assessment of Highlanders is rather telling: one should expect a high-level, competitive clash between the two sides. That being said, Symons is looking forward to what his squad can achieve the rest of the season.

“We have a lot of depth and players that are excited to influence the matches in an attacking way. It will be exciting to see the players continue to build relationships on the field as they continue to train and play over the coming weeks”

Kick off for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 3:15 PM PST at Thunderbird Stadium. Tickets at the gate are by donation, with a suggested $10-15 to aid Varsity FC operations.

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