A season long rivalry between the top two teams in the Metro Women’s Soccer League will have one final chapter on Sunday with a trip to nationals on the line.
Richmond FC and North Shore Renegades will square off in the Provincial Premier Cup championship game with little separating the juggernaut squads. The teams split three earlier meetings, including Richmond’s 2-1 win in the MWSL League Cup final back on April 4. A week later, the locals won a make-up game over Abbotsford to edge out North Shore for MWSL Premier Division honours.
Now, Richmond FC is 90 minutes away from completing the “triple” and earning the club’s first-ever trip to Canadian Senior Women’s Soccer Championships — slated for October in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The Renegades are the defending provincial champions, having ended Surrey United’s remarkable 11-year reign. They were also Surrey’s biggest rival over the last few years and are led by former national team under 20 member Rheanne Sleiman who had 10 goals in regular season play.
“Overall, I kind of feel North Shore maybe a little bit beyond their prime and we are about to enter ours,” said Richmond FC coach Jim Caldwell of his younger squad. “They are an excellent team and it should be a great game. I know the girls have waited a long time for this and are very excited to be in this position."
The cup final will be played on turf at Westhills Stadium in Langford and that suits Caldwell just fine. His team is built on speed and thrives on a fast surface which compliments a potent transition game with plenty of pace in the attacking positions.
It was Richmond’s quickness that produced lots of scoring chances in its semi-final encounter with Coquitlam Metro Ford last Saturday at Minoru Park but the outcome wasn’t decided until the 86th minute. That’s when striker Caitlin Davie knocked in a rebound to end an afternoon of drama.
Davie had earlier hit the crossbar on a free kick and Richmond rattled the bar again on an uncontested header early in the second half. With extra time looming, the hosts finally broke through.
“I don’t think they had one good scoring chance which is a testament of how much we controlled the game,” added Caldwell. “I though their goalkeeper played very well and I don’t think the referee helped our cause either (by letting a lot of stuff go).
“Even though we missed a number of chances I thought it was only matter of time and was confident the game would be decided within the 90 minutes.”
It will be North Shore’s second straight trip to the Island. The Renegades took out Castaways Highlanders 2-1 in the other semi-final. They got past Surrey United 1-0 a week earlier.