KENT, WA— Vancouver Victory FC are now 9 points clear at the top of the Evergreen Premier League table after they scored twice in the second half to edge Seattle Stars FC 2-1 at French Field in Kent on Thursday night.
Seattle took the lead in a rainy first half when EPLWA 2016 (and all time) leading scorer Tyler Bjork netted his tenth goal of the season in the 21st minute.
Bjork’s initial shot was pushed away by Vancouver goalkeeper Ryan Vincent (Oregon State) and the parry appeared to be rolling out of bounds. Bjork didn’t quit on the play however, and it paid off when he delivered a perfectly directed follow-up shot from what appeared to be an impossible angle. Tyler made the impossible become reality when his try hit the inside of the post and skidded into the back of the net. 1-0 to Seattle.
The Stars had several great chances the rest of the first half but couldn’t convert any of them. “We were fortunate to not be down by more,” says Vancouver General Manager Barrett Goddard. “We went into the halftime break a bit lucky but also determined to adjust and make a stand.”
That’s exactly what the league leaders did. In the second half Head Coach Aaron Lewis asked his troops to pressure higher up the pitch, and it paid off with large spells of possession and a diminished Seattle counter attack. Marco Gonzalez (University of Portland) came into goal for V2FC and Antonio Porreco brightened up the midfield attack.
In the 66th minute the Victory were level when Matt Sipowicz scored off on an assist from Erick Urzua. It was a perfect ‘team goal,’ with the ball being passed expertly around the Vancouver midfield. Porreco got touches as well as Urzua, before Sipowicz tied the match. The finishing touch was a calm chip over Stars goalkeeper Carlos Rodriguez.
Urzua won the match for the Victory in the 75th minute when he took on the Seattle defense down the right side. He unleashed a shot that Rodriguez saved, but the low flyer came back to Urzua and he buried the second chance.
Vancouver are now 7 points (a combination of wins, draws and / or opponent losses) from clinching their first-ever Evergreen Premier League Championship.
V2FC travels to Wenatchee to play the Capitals on Sunday night at 5 PM in the Apple Bowl. The Stars, who saw their 3-match winning streak end, next host the Spokane Shadow on Saturday July 16 at French Field in Kent at 7 PM