Vancouver Victory on verge of clinching soccer title

Amateur team plays final home match

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

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With one more victory, Vancouver’s men’s soccer team can call itself champions.

The Vancouver Victory FC can wrap up their first Evergreen Premier League of Washington championship Saturday when they host the Spokane Shadow. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Harmony Sports Complex. Admission is $5.

On the strength of a defense that has allowed only seven goals in 11 games, the Victory have nine wins and two draws. They need only two more points to clinch the title.

This is the third year of the Evergreen Premier League, which includes eight men’s amateur soccer teams. Spokane won the first two titles.

Vancouver finished in third place in each of the first two seasons, behind Spokane and South Sound.

Victory owner Barrett Goddard said a strong defense was a point of emphasis heading into this third season for the local men’s amateur soccer team.

“I don’t want to give up any goals. I want us strong at the back at all times and I want our opponents to have to work for goals,” Goddard said.

Aaron Lewis, in his second season as the head coach, said emphasizing possession and quick defensive pressure has helped Vancouver’s defense succeed.

“We’re good in possession. We are on the ball more than our opponent,” Lewis said.

When opponents win possession, Lewis said immediate and coordinated up-field pressure has helped limit counter-attack chances against the Victory.

On offense, 14 players have scored at least once for Vancouver.

Most of the Victory players are current college soccer players. That is by design. Lewis, the head soccer coach at Corban University in Salem, Ore., said college players are motivated to train during the summer season in preparation for their upcoming college seasons.

Because college players have other summer commitments, more than 30 players have seen action for the Victory this season. But a core of regular starters has helped the Victory be more consistent this season according to the owner Goddard.

Ben Culpan, a midfielder and recent Corban graduate, and Gonzaga defender Christo Michaelson have been vocal leaders for the Victory this season according to Lewis.

Lewis said providing competitive summer soccer for current college players is a reflection of the Victory’s mission.

“Our main goal is to develop players so they can go on and play beyond college,” Lewis said.

Players on the roster with Clark County ties include Landon Roscoe, Ahmon Afenegus, Iliya Zhividze and Zach Morris, a young backup goalkeeper.

Stanford midfielder Foster Langsdorf of Vancouver, having just completed the Portland Timbers under-23 season, is expected to join the Victory for Saturday’s match.

This is the last of seven home matches this summer for the Victory, who are 6-0 at Harmony having outscored their guests 15-3. Vancouver won 3-0 at Spokane on May 7.