'Caps shock Colorado Springs; advance to Conference Semis

In a season full of surprises, WFC2 delivered their biggest one to date in the first round of the USL playoffs.

Facing the 3rd seeded Colorado Springs Switchbacks, on the road, in their first ever USL playoff game, Vancouver rallied from an early deficit in a  2-1 win to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Kyle Greig and Kianz Froese answered an early Luke Vercallone tally.

Showing plenty of nerves off the start, WFC2 struggled to get a foothold in the game early on. A Kadin Chung giveaway let the Switchbacks in down the left where Josh Suggs’ cross was met at the back post by an unmarked Vercallone. The Colorado Springs captain made no mistake, beating Spencer Richey five minutes into the match.

Looking overmatched through the first fifteen minutes, WFC2 needed an answer, and it was their captain that provided it. 

The only player on the squad with playoff experience, Grieg pounced on Matthew Baldismo’s miss hit attempt and fired a left footed volley from 15 yards out. Devala Gorrick should have done more with it as the keeper’s outstretched hand wasn’t enough to keep it out.

Buoyed by the goal, WFC2 suddenly had the look of the team that cruised through the first half of the season at the top of the table. 

Suddenly on their heels, the Switchbacks got caught napping in the 31st. Marco Bustos played a short corner to Froese who had his first attempt blocked before lacing the rebound into the near post from the edge of the area for the 2-1 lead.

WFC2’s much maligned back line, who was tasked with holding a slim second half lead against a Switchbacks onslaught, held firm as the game dwindled to a close. The reunited centre back pair of Sem de Wit and Cole Sieler looked comfortable throughout, and Richey had little to do despite the Switchbacks’ desperate push in the last 20 minutes.

Froese had the best chance of the second half after Greig’s blocked shot fell to him 15 yards out. This time Gorrick’s fingertips were enough to steer Froese’s attempt wide.

Vancouver will play the winner of the 2nd seed Rio Grande versus 7th seed Oklahoma City match in the Conference Semifinals next week. If Oklahoma City pulls off the upset, WFC2 will host the match at Thunderbird Stadium.

Attendance: 2,405

Scoring Summary
7' - COS - Luke Vercollone (Josh Suggs)
17' - VAN - Kyle Greig
31' - VAN - Kianz Froese

Shots: COS 19 - VAN 14
Shots on Goal: COS 4 - VAN 5
Saves: COS 3 - VAN 3
Corners: COS 8 - VAN 4

44' - COS - Christian Ibeagha

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
1.Devala Gorrick; 44.Jordan Burt, 3.Christian Ibeagha (9.Martin Maybin 81'), 2.Josh Phillips, 5.Josh Suggs; 35.Taesong Kim (11.Saeed Robinson 61'), 8.Rony Argueta, 4.Luke Vercollone © (6.Davy Armstrong 85'); 10.Miguel Gonzalez, 12.Mike Seth, 19.Conor Doyle (34.JJ Greer 77')

Substitutes not used
31.Zac Gibbens, 15.Jungyeong Park, 22.Yaw Danso

Whitecaps FC 2
39.Spencer Richey; 63.Kadin Chung, 51.Sem de Wit, 14.Cole Seiler, 46.Brett Levis; 38.Kianz Froese, 64.Thomas Gardner (57.Thomas Sanner 87'), 65.Matthew Baldisimo (58.Will Seymore 76'); 56.Daniel Haber (48.Christopher Diaz 69'), 47.Kyle Greig, 32.Marco Bustos (45.Giuliano Frano 90'+3')

Substitutes not used
24.Marco Carducci, 41.Jackson Farmer, 49.Fatawu Safiu

Image: Isiah J. Downing