Royals kick off 2018 season atop the PACWEST

Royals kick off 2018 season atop the PACWEST

The Royals' women's soccer team officially got their 2018 PACWEST season started this weekend, with all eyes looking ahead the national championship being hosted by Douglas later this year. The opening two matches saw the Royals earn two hard-fought results, first with a matchup against the Langara Falcons at Cunnings Field. The match got off to a slow start, before things kicked off in the 11th minute with a flurry of Royals chances. The Falcons pushed back with chances of their own, culminating in a beautiful through ball over the top which found Gabby Zenone. Zenone cut straight to the net and fired off a great shot but Alexa Gazzola dove to her left to shut the door, to the delight of the home crowd. The Royals rode the wave of momentum that followed, surging forward in attack, and finally broke through ten minutes before halftime with a sweet strike that flew past the Falcons' keeper Sierra Grieco. In the second half, it was all Douglas, with attack after attack launched at the Falcons' goal, and eventually the dam broke once more as three chances within a matter of seconds were stopped, but the fourth rebound was buried by Emma Thomas to double the lead. The Royals had several further chances, including a pair of quick shots from Nisha Simra, who was incredibly unlucky not to score on the day. Defensively, the Royals were perfect, and kept the clean sheet handily, as they held on for a 2-0 win to kick off season successfully.

Sunday's game got off to a much rockier start when Capilano's Catrina Olstrom managed to slip past the Douglas defense and slot home the first goal of the season against the Royals. Not ten minutes later it was Olstrom again with an incredible curling shot from the edge of the box that found the top corner of the goal. 2-0 is a tough lead to come back from in the game of soccer, but the Royals were fearless, and began bombing down the wings in search of picking out the perfect cross. They did twice, as wingers found Sam Kell and Emma Thomas for two quick goals in less than five minutes, knotting the score up at 2. The Blues came hot out of the gate again in the second half, but Alexa Gazzola kept the score even with a fantastic save on an unmarked Arin McIldoon, and quickly sprung a counter which saw Mikayla Hamilton net her second of the weekend as the Royals took their first lead of the match. But the second half was all Blues, and after nearly a half hour of consistent pressure, Capilano broke through after a penalty was awarded for a handball. Gazzola saved the initial kick but Capilano's Brooklyn Doucette was right there to slot home the rebound and tie the game at 3 with well under ten minutes to play. The Blues kept the pressure up in the dying stages but the Royals would hang on to snatch a point on the road.

This was the third draw out of four matches played on the weekend, so with the Royals the only team to win a game so far, they sit stop the PACWEST on four points.

Douglas will play twice on the island next weekend when they pay a visit to VIU for a pair of road games against the Mariners.