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Redemption at Merlo Field: T2 Victorious Over Whitecaps 2

T2 find their first victory against Cascadia opposition with a goal fest win over Whitecaps 2.

Kevin N. Hume

Coming into this match winless against Vancouver or Seattle this season, T2 vanquished that statistic in a 6 goal affair against Vancouver Whitecaps 2. After going down early to the Whitecaps 2, T2 fought back for the lead and stayed ahead of their competition finishing the match victors on their home field.

The first half did not start out so well for the home side. A last second scratch removed Rennico Clarke and replaced him with Steven Evans at centerback. The visitors had a number of first team irregulars starting tonight, including Erik Hurtado and Robert Earnshaw. 9 minutes into the first half the gulf in experience between Earnshaw and Evans was apparent as Evans brought down Earnshaw in the box and earned Whitecaps 2 a penalty. Earnshaw stepped up to take his own PK and very easily slotted it past Gleeson to give Whitecaps 2 an early lead.

T2 would not go into the dire heat of the blazing Oregon sun quietly though. T2's goal scoring hero, Kharlton Belmar got the equalizer for T2 in the 18th minute. In his first start for T2, Santiago Biglieri came in from his right wing position and sent in a perfectly placed cross into the box. Belmar got up high and almost dove over the keeper's head to get his head onto the cross and into the net for T2's opener and equalizer.

After giving up the goal it appeared that some of the wind was taken out of the Whitecaps 2 sails. After being pretty dominant over T2 through high pressure, fouling, and kicking T2 began to take control of the match. The result of which ended up being that T2 relieved a lot of pressure off of Evans. Whitecaps 2 knew to target him on any of their attacks. Another result was that T2 began to get more chances and they gained the lead in the 29th minute behind Fatawu Safiu. Andy Thoma dribbled up the field and cut in towards the center of the pitch. A pass of his was blocked but he continued to speed along was able to slide down to get to the ball before the Whitecaps 2 defender could. His slide tackle pass found Fatawu out on the left edge of the box and Fatawu made no mistake sending his shot low and hard into the bottom right corner for the go ahead goal.

From there, T2 continued to be sharper in their passing and generally retained possession a little bit better than the Whitecaps 2 could. Their fouling strategy continued unabated though. This resulted in an early substitution for the Whitecaps 2 near the end of the first half. Chris Serban attempted to foul Fatawu but Fatawu stood his ground and Serban bounced off of him and his trainer had to come out and check on him. Half of the Whitecaps 2 team came over to get water at this time. And Craig Nitti was subbed on for Serban. With the water break that the Whitecaps 2 got they finished the last 5 minutes of the match a lot more like the first 15 of the half. They ended up winning a corner kick at the stroke of 45 minutes and were able to get the ball into the net. However the ref called the goal off for offsides and T2 went into the break retaining their 2-1 lead.

As the second half began, Whitecaps 2 went in strong early again. In the 48th minute they earned a free kick and sent it into traffic. The first shot was saved by the post, and the rebound shot was then parried out by Gleeson, with the third follow up shot finally sent out for a corner by Gleeson. But just a few minutes later in the 52nd minute a very similar scenario occurred in favor of T2. However, no mistake was made and T2 gained a two goal advantage over the visitors. Gavin sent in a shot that pinged off the crossbar but found its way back to Fatawu. Fatawu took a shot but it was saved off the line. The clearance didn't get far though as it reached Fochive who put the third shot into the net.

Vancouver made a triple substitution in the 64th minute to give the team some much needed fresh legs. It paid off as they cut their deficit to only one goal in the 78th minute. Substitute Victor Blasco found Kianz Froese in the box and Froese (who got a yellow card for any number of infractions during a scuffle with a few T2 players earlier in the match) but the ball into the upper right corner from 18 yards out to give his side some hope.

Thankfully, that is all they would find as T2 restored their two goal lead and finished their opponents off in the 87th minute. Captain Blair Gavin got the goal on quite a little event in the Whitecaps 2 box. Belmar got into the box and was fouled by a defender. Defender didn't get any of the ball but it rolled just a yard or two to Gavin who was waiting and put his shot right past Tornaghi for T2's fourth goal. After being fouled, the ref saw that Gavin got the ball and was taking a shot so he waived play on with advantage for T2. Belmar himself didn't even realize that Gavin had scored as he got up and was very frustrated with no PK call. Once he realized his captain put away the goal making the PK call needless he was quite alright. You do always have to wonder if the PK would have been called if Gavin hadn't been there or if he had missed. But he was there, and he didn't miss, so it doesn't matter.

With their victory tonight, T2 has finally defeated a rival NW team this season. And they did it in entertaining fashion with a 6 goal affair and rose above the hacking, kicking, and fouling that the Whitecaps 2 brought to the table tonight. After tonight, T2 travel north to Seattle to take on S2 in their final regular season match against their Emerald City counterparts. S2 are 4-0-0 on T2 this season having taken full points in all three regular season matches and knocking T2 out of the US Open Cup. Kickoff will be at 7:30pm this Friday night at Starfire. We will be there to bring you this away match live.