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Highlanders Take Western Conference
Levis scores only goal in victory against Timbers U-23s

Sunday, July 28, 2013

VENTURA, Calif. -- The Victoria Highlanders capped off their California playoff trip with a 1-0 victory over Northwest Division rival Portland Timbers U-23. Brett Levis scored his third goal of the weekend in the opening half to give the Highlanders a lead that they would carry till the final whistle.

Following Saturday’s match that required extra time, the Highlanders hit the pitch Sunday evening looking for their second win of the weekend to earn the Western Conference crown and place them in the 2013 PDL Championships. Victoria’s Andrew Ravenhill provided his club with a spark early, flying down the wing early and creating chances and generating the team’s initial corner kick of the match.

On nine minutes, Portland received an opportunity of their own, when Jarvis Greer crossed a neat pass in front of the net which hoping to find a Timbers player, none were in a position to get a touch.

Victoria seemed content to sit back and wait for opportunities in the opening 15-minutes of play. That opportunity would come in the 16th minute, when Blair Sturrock broke the line with a perfectly placed pass to Levis’ feet, who then easily shifted past his marker, firing a left-footed shot past the Timbers ‘keeper to push the Highlanders up 1-0.

Portland began to find their feet after 30-minutes, gaining increased possession and firing a couple attempts that would amount to nothing. Quality chances would become sparse for either side, save for a chance in the 40th minute by Tarnvir Bhandal for the Highlanders, who received a pass from Kalem Scott but was unable to place it to the back of the net. The first half would end with the Highlanders maintaining their 1-0 lead.

Both teams opened up in a conservative manner to open the second half, with no large chanced until the 67th minute, when a free kick for Portland sailed overtop of Victoria ‘keeper Elliot Mitrou. Captain Tyler Hughes would take down a Portland player minutes later, allowing Timbers U-23 another free kick opportunity. Hughes would redeem his error, heading the ball away and preventing any opportunity for the opposing club.

Mitrou would keep his clean sheet intact as he deflected a shot on net in the 75th minute, Bhandal would also lend to the defense as he slid across to deflect an opportunity three minutes later.

Portland's largest opportunity of the half came in the 82nd minute, when a blast from Timbers player Anthony Macchionne sailed just over the net from eight yards out. Portland would press in the final minutes of the half, but would be unable to break the Highlander defense. The Highlanders would hold their 1-0 lead to the final whistle, winning the Western Conference title and earning a berth in next weekend’s PDL Championships, to be held in Austin, Texas.

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