Vancouver Whitecaps FC women (8W-1L-4D) saw their bid for a third United Soccer Leagues W-League championship title fall short, as they lost 3-1 to Buffalo Flash (14W-0L-2D) in the 2010 W-League Championship Final at Harry Welch Stadium in Santa Clarita, California, on Saturday night.
Amy Vermeulen opened the scoring in the second half for the Whitecaps, but Buffalo struck back with two quick goals to take a decisive lead. Spanish international Veronica Boquete then added her second goal of the game late on to seal the victory for the Upstate New York club.
It was Vancouver’s first loss of the season, and Buffalo’s 14th win in a row, as the second-year outfit claimed their first W-League championship title.
Goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain returned to Vancouver’s starting XI after missing the semifinals because of FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying duty with the England national team. Whitecaps head coach Hubert Busby Jr. retained the 4-3-3 formation that had defeated Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues on Thursday, buy with a few adjustments. Striker Julie Armstrong got her first start since mid-June, with Desiree Scott dropping to midfield, and Cheslea Stewart moving back to left fullback. The Whitecaps were still without leading goalscorers Melissa Tancredi and Jodi-Ann Robinson, as well as injured midfielder Kara Lang, who made the trip but did not dress.
The game’s opening moments were even, but Buffalo soon had Vancouver on the back foot. Ten minutes in, Boquete did well to make space at the top of the Whitecaps box before hitting a low shot that was comfortably saved by Chamberlain.
On 15 minutes, W-League Most Valuable Player Kelly Parker beat Vancouver’s offside trap on the right and was in on goal. However, instead of shooting, she tried to pass, and Whitecaps defender Martina Franko was able to intercept the ball.
Minutes later, Boquete turned and shot quickly from the top of the box, producing a diving stop from Chamberlain.
The momentum then shifted in Vancouver’s favour, for the balance of the half.
On 27 minutes, a curling shot by Scott from the top of the Buffalo box was stopped by Flash goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar. A minute later, Stewart fired an effort wide, with a stretching Kirsteen Buchan unable to get a touch and deflect it on target.
On 32 minutes, Vermeulen hooked the ball into the net, but the assistant referee had already spotted an infraction, and the play was blown dead.
Moments later, Scott beat Tajonar to the ball in the box, checked back, and squared it for Vermeulen. However, she was immediately closed down and her shot at an empty net was blocked off her boot.
Finally, just before the break, a corner kick from Kaylyn Kyle found defender Emily Zurrer, and she got a good header on goal which was saved by Mexican international Tajonar.
It was scoreless at halftime, with shots even at six apiece.
Both teams had good chances early in the second half. On 51 minutes, Kyle curled a free kick just wide of the post, on an effort that was similar to the one with which she scored in the semifinals. Minutes later, Flash winger Gemma Davison laid the ball to Boquete who was trailing, and she fired a rocket, which Chamberlain did well to parry.
Vancouver then took the lead on 57 minutes. Franko hit a long ball forward to Vermeulen, which Buffalo defender Eartha Pond misplayed. Vermeulen pounced on the loose ball and fired a quick 25-yard shot that curled over Tajonar and in. It was the striker’s fourth goal of the season.
Buffalo hit back quickly, however. Just four minutes later, Canadian international Kelly Parker played it to Davison on the overlap in the box on the right, and she fired it over top of the onrushing Chamberlain to make it 1-1.
Vancouver came close two minutes later, as a Kyle corner from the right again found Zurrer, but her header was blocked on the line at the near post by Mele French.
Buffalo then scored the winner on 64 minutes, giving the game its third goal in a seven-minute span. French played a through ball to Boquete, whose pace allowed her to get in behind the Whitecaps defence and fire home for 2-1.
The pace of the game then slowed, and though the Whitecaps had some good possession, they were unable to generate quality chances.
Buffalo then put the game away on 88 minutes, as Parker slipped it ahead to Boquete in space in the Whitecaps box on the right, and the Spaniard finished well to make it a 3-1 final.