Vancouver, WA—On a bluebird day, Vancouver Victory FC toppled league leaders Bellingham United FC 5 – 1 to claim the top spot on the table. The crowd of 325 home supporters and a few great away fans were treated to an honorable contest where both sides brought good things to the table, but the crew in blue ended up walking away from McKenzie Stadium with smiles and all three points.
by Matt Lacy V2FC Beat Writer
(Vancouver Match Report) Wearing their blue tops, black shorts and black socks, the V2FC played a 4-3-3 diamond, moving Nick Palodichuk to defensive mid, Mirza Ramic at attacking mid and placing Borca Atanasov at the striker position. This yellow brick road down the middle of the pitch was deadly. Once the green smoke cleared from the Vanguard’s opening TIFO, It did not take Atanasov more than three minutes to reintroduce himself to the pitch after his three and a half game injury hiatus. In the 3rd minute, Enrique Esparza pinpointed a nice ball up the left line to Atanasov who streaked to 20 yards out and arrowed the ball to the far post, beating the Bellingham keeper, Brian Swanson. 1 – 0 Victory.
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Atanasov stated after the game, “That goal was a screamer, probably one of the best goals I have ever scored. There was no angle right there but I decided to go with it and it went perfect to the upper v; and especially since it was the first five minutes, it kinda set the tone.” In the 16th minute, after some strong, even play, the Victory racked another one for the home side. Victory’s David Boldt sent a soaring throw in down the left line to Atanasov. Atanasov then took it all the way down to the touchline where he placed the ball out to Mirza Ramic, positioned nicely in front of the goal. Ramic one touched the volley into the bottom right of the Bellingham net, neat as you like. 2 – 0 Victory.
More great exchanges happened back and forth leading to a threatening attempted on goal for Bellingham United FC, wearing all white and fielding what looked to be a 4-3-3 formation. In the 30th minute, Bellingham’s Chris Epson sent in a great ball to Tye Hastings who smashed the ball towards the net, forcing Vancouver’s keeper, Jordan Farr to make a bouncing save. The half played out with good solid passes and build ups from both sides, but still ended 2 – 0 Victory.
Both teams came back out well, but the Victory won out quickly in the 47 minute as Atanasov sent in a well leveled cross in the middle of fast play from the right. Vancouver’s Marshall Hartley smartly allowed the ball to cross him, giving Antiguan international Tevaughn Harriette space to run in and left boot it at point blank range putting up his first goal of the season. 3 – 0 Victory.
In the next minute, the Bellinghammers roared back immediately as Ryo Matsubara magicianed a cross from the right to fellow Hammer Tony Clarke at the top left of the box. Clarke handily put the ball in the upper right, beating the diving Victory keeper, Jordan Farr. BUFC pulled the score to 3 – 1.
The Victory kept working and in the 72 minute, out from the right corner, Atanasov worked the ball to the top of the box where he created space to rocket a goal into the left corner. 4 – 1 Victory. Bellingham Head Coach Lance Calloway had this to say to Atanasov after the game, “I want to say you were a difference maker today for your team. You played very well, very well done.”
In the 75 minute, there was a tense run of play where the Hammers earned an indirect free kick from ten yards out. Bellingham’s Carlos Badillo was causing all sorts of havoc in the fray, but the collective Victory defesne blocked two very hard shots inside the 6 yard box and finally cleared the threat. Bellingham never once gave up the fight, as evidenced in the 86th minute when Hastings drove a great ball towards the Victory net. Keeper Farr had to Superman to his lower right to keep the score line where it was. Farr was deferential when asked about the heroic move, “That one save, it was a good save but it was the defenders that pretty much covered everything for me, there was a bunch of shots that deflected off them. As far as organization went they were just solid, everyone was doing their job and it made my job really easy.”
Victory back lineman Davis Strawn points towards the coaches for this performance, “The coaches put the pressure on us this last week to make simple corrections like staying tight and communicating and maintaining control as a back four and not just one person.” The game was capped off in stoppage time by a wonderful run of play where Ramic received the ball with his back to the goal and unselfishly shepherded it off to a dashing Bobby Hutchin coming in from the left. He bashed the ball into the upper left corner with the outside of his right boot. 5 – 1 Victory.
The Victory left McKenzie Stadium with a win and riding high on the top of the table at 15 points. Next week the crew in blue will hit the road to face Wenatchee United on June 8th at 4pm. Bellingham hits the road to face South Sound FC on Sunday June 1st at 2 PM. The Shock can take over the top spot from Vancouver with a win.
V2FC 3’ Borca Atanasov (Enrique Esparsa)
V2FC 17’ Mirza Ramic (assist: Atanasov)
V2FC 47’ Tavaughn Harriette (assist: Atanasov)
BUFC 48’ Tony Clarke (assist: Ryo Matsubara)
V2FC 72’ Atanasov
V2FC 90+ Bobby Hutchin (assist Ramic)
BUFC Tyler Bjork Yellow
BUFC Carlos Badillo Yellow
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