The Sounders FC U-23 started slowly on Sunday afternoon, giving up two first half goals to Brett Levis and were never able to recover. Attempts to close the gap were instead countered for two more Victoria goals before the Sounders notched one for consolation.
Whether it was the busy week, bus travel, or an especially thick and slow grass field, the Sounders U-23 struggled to fine rhythm in Vicotira. The Highlanders brought great energy in front of their home crowd and capitalized on chances in the 22nd and 32nd minutes, each by winger, Brett Levis. Then, in the 2nd half, found two more goals from a free kick and off an awkward bounce.
After an early chance in the 9th minute for Victoria, the Sounders began to control the run of play. However, in the 19th minute, after the ball floated over the end line, Darwin Jones crossed it back into the goal box for David Geno. Playing through the whistle, Geno headed the ball towards the goal. When he landed, he seemed to tweak his foot on the patchy grass field. Geno was forced to sub out of the match.
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Riding the momentum swing, after seeing the Sounders talisman subbed off, the Highlanders went on the attack. Brett Levis worked space on the left channel after a quick throw in and shot low into the far post. His effort beat Earl Edwards for the first goal of the match.
The Sounders grew back into the match again, following the Victoria goal. After a corner kick was deflected to the top of the Sounders penalty area, Josh Phillips opened his right foot and drove at chest height shot off of the left upright.
Moments after the Sounders hit the post, Vitoria responded with another goal to extend their lead. Again, it was Brett Levis. This time, he dribbled from the right wing into the box, chopping past two Sounders defenders and casually slotted the ball into the bottom corner from six yards out to make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.
With 45 minutes to respond, the Sounders came out on the front foot for the 2nd half. However, despite multiple chances built for the Sounders, it was the home side that converted for the third goal of the game. Tommy Mallette brought the ball into the box from the right side. The diminutive attacker skipped in between two Sounders defenders and attempted a shot. While his first shot was blocked, the attempted clearance got stuck in a grass divot. The ball bobbled right back to Mallette, who scored from five yards out.
As the Sounders began to push forward with attackers subbing in for defense, each the midfield became non-existent. In the 61st minute, the Highlanders added another, this time from a poorly marked free kick. Riley O’Neill was alone near the penalty spot and headed into the bottom corner.
The Sounders would finally catch a break in the 63rd minute as their attack led to shots from Mark Lee and Aodhan Quinn. Their shots were cleared off the line, but the latter, only as far as Miles Byass, six yards from goal. Byass made no mistake, and gave the Sounders their first goal of the PDL season.
The final half hour included chances for both sides, but each team seemed slightly worn out after the feverish pace at the beginning of the 2nd half, and the match ended without any further goals; 4-1.
The Sounders U-23 don’t have long to lick their wounds from the match on Sunday, as they will fly out Monday morning for their first ever appearance on Tuesday, in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. They will travel across the country to take on the Charlotte Eagles of the USL Pro league on May 21st.
Darren Sawatzky, said, "The Open Cup is an exciting competition for these players. It gives them a chance to showcase their ability against professional players and we are looking forward to Tuesday’s game in Charlotte."
For more news and all things Sounders U-23, visit SoundersU23.com, follow us on Twitter: @SoundersU23, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.
VIC – Brett Levis 22’
VIC – Brett Levis 32’
VIC – Tommy Mallette 52’
VIC – Riley O’Neill 61’
SFC – Miles Byass 63’
Sounders FC U-23 – Earl Edwards, Joshua Phillips, Stephen Mohn (85- Luis Esteves), Michael Uyehara (61- Miles Byass), Mark Lee, Chris Brundage, Lucas Baldin (33- Michael Harris), Austin Sweeney (45- Nicholas Raskasky), Aodhan Quinn, Darwin Jones, David Geno (21-Abdul Aman (54- Eric Stevenson))
Substitutes Not Used: Zac Lubin
TOTAL SHOTS: 11; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 3.
Victoria Highlanders – Elliot Mitrou, Kalem Scott (85-Adam Ravenhill), Gavin Barrett (80-Tarnvir Bhandal), Tyler Hughes, Ryan Ashlee, Riley O’Neill, Gareth Langdon (78-Craig Taylor), Matt Polster, Brett Polster, Brett Levis, Tommy Mallette (78-Craig Gorman), Jordie Hughes
Substitutes Not Used: Joel Wilson, Andy Phillips, , Jermele Campbell,
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; FOULS: 6; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 3.
Victoria Highlanders: Riley O’Neill (caution) 87'
Time of Game: 1:00 p.m. PST