07/22/2013 7:49 AM
Bellingham United FC (8-4-1) took to the pitch on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon at Civic Stadium to take on the storied, but ailing Victoria Highlanders (2-10-1). It was the first time in Bellingham’s young history that the Hammers found themselves in a "do or die" situation. Win the game and the Hammers finish second place in the PCSL standings, besting their inaugural season where they finished third. Lose or Draw and the Hammers playoff dreams would be over.
Early on the Hammers looked to be the better team, establishing not only most of the possession, but also by getting the majority of chances on net. As the clock neared 20 minutes, Bellingham finally got themselves on the board with a beautiful goal by Carlos Badillo after a setup pass from Kellan Brown that was equally as beautiful. The goal marked Badillo’s first goal playing for the first team.
The Hammers continued to back up a young Victoria squad as the first half came to a conclusion, but only managed to score the one goal, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The second half started relatively balanced compared to the first. Although the Hammers still managed to have the better chances on net, Victoria did start to find their opportunities by utilizing their speed. However at the 59th minute, Bellingham found themselves with a corner kick opportunity for Sean Connor. Connor delivered a beautiful in swinger into the box to an awaiting Kellan Brown who headed the ball into the net for his 14th goal of the season. The goal added to Brown’s league lead and put an exclamation mark on his 2013 Golden Boot win.
Right on through the 70th minute, the Hammers continued to swarm the Highlanders’ penalty area, but the match remained at 2-0. Finally, the Highlanders relieved the pressure and mounted an attack of their own. After a shot managed to find Bellingham defender, Chris Jepson’s hand, Victoria was awarded a penalty kick for the handball and a chance to get back in the game. Although Leo Cohen guessed correctly to his left, he wasn’t quite fast enough as the ball snuck under his open arms and into the net to make it 2-1.
A late push by Victoria had Hammers fans holding their breath, but as the final whistle blew Civic Stadium erupted into cheers as Bellingham booked their ticket into the Challenge Cup playoffs for the second season in a row. Hundreds of fans crashed the field as players, coaches and staff celebrated with them.
After the celebrating quieted down a bit, everyone stayed on the pitch for the regular season awards ceremony. The “Hooligan” of the year award given by Bellingham’s Supporters Club was given to defender, Chris Jepson, while the fan voted MVP Award was handed to Oscar Jimenez. Defensive Player of the Year was won by Joel Grossman and it came as little shock to see Kellan Brown named Offensive Player of the Year.
With the win, Bellingham United FC finished their 2013 PCSL Regular Season with a 9-4-1 record, while the Victoria Highlanders finished at 2-11-1. Your "Silver Reef Hammer Man of the Match" went to Carlos Bordilllo.
Coach Lance Calloway had this to say after the match:
Today's match was very important as we needed to secure our Challenge Cup spot and also second place in the PCSL. The guys took care of business. Carlos Badillo had a great match as he defended quite well and was getting into the attack constantly, and getting us on the scoreboard with his first goal. Kellan Brown was again outstanding as he had an assist and one goal today. We did a great job creating a lot of scoring chances but failed too often to convert. We need to be better next week in front of the goal for success. We really look forward to preparing to play Vancouver next week in the first round of the Challenge Cup.
The Hammers will take on the Reigning Champion Vancouver Thunderbirds in the first round of the Challenge Cup Playoffs next Saturday at 12pm at Coquitlam Town Centre.