Three Things: WFC2 Win Thriller at UBC
VANCOUVER, BC - Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) defeated OKC Energy FC 3-2 in a thrilling USL Western Conference semifinal on Saturday afternoon at UBC Thunderbird Stadium.
Here are three things that stood out to me:
NEVER SAY DIE
This team just doesn't quit.
A week ago, they came back from an early deficit to earn a 2-1 win away at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. And on Saturday against OKC Energy FC, they scored a late winner courtesy of Daniel Haber after conceding a two-goal advantage in the second half.
"Emotions were running high at the end of the game," Haber told reporters. "We saw them score twice. All year we've been resilient. We feel like we've been the underdog and overlooked. We knew we were going to be fighting until the end."
And they did just that against an older - and bigger - OKC side that scored twice in stoppage time last weekend. The young 'Caps got kicked around a bit on Saturday, but they didn't cave.
Far from it.
"It gives us all the confidence in the world as a team," Haber said. "I'm just so proud of the guys for continuing to push. We looked and around and it would have been easy to throw in the towel. They're a big team, scoring lots of set pieces. We saw what they did last week. But you could see it on our faces. We didn't want the season to end here. And I think that came through in the end."
'ICING ON THE CAKE' FOR 'OLD MAN' GREIG
In the build-up to Saturday's match, Kyle Greig penned an open letter on whitecapsfc.com about his decision to leave OKC and join WFC2 this past offseason - and about being the "old man" on the young 'Caps. He called it "one of the most difficult decisions" of his life.
Well, it's looking pretty good right about now.
The 26-year-old WFC2 captain got the better of his former teammates on Saturday. Not only did he score a goal with a tidy finish early in the second half, he also came up with a number of headed clearances in his own end as well as flicking on the throw-in that led to Haber's winner.
48' CHUNG GREIG BACK OF THE NET!!!!! 'Caps up 2-0. #VANvOKC #USLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/FQW58Bg0Gw
- Whitecaps FC 2 (@wfc2) October 8, 2016
"It was amazing," Greig said of scoring against his old team. "I had a chance when we were away at OKC to score and fell short. A couple weeks ago when we played them I had a couple of chances that I should have put it away. To get one tonight was the icing on the cake for me."
THE KIDS COME THROUGH
For the second straight week, WFC2 head coach Alan Koch started three B.C. born 18-years-olds: fullback Kadin Chung and midfielders Matthew Baldismo and Thomas Gardner.
All three of them came through the Whitecaps FC Residency program.
And they got the job done.
Chung set up WFC2's second goal with a nice run and feed to Greig, while Gardner was influential in Haber's game-winner, causing some havoc with a brave near-post run.
"It's part of our mandate to play young players," Koch told reporters. "Obviously we have a great academy and we bring those players through. Full credit to the young guys embracing these opportunities. There are not many young players their age anywhere in the world playing professional games, let alone playoff games and embracing those opportunities. I'm proud of it, our group is proud of it, and the club is proud of it."
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