After his team had a tough first half against Arizona United SC at McLeod Stadium on Sunday, rookie striker Thomas Sanner led the Whitecaps FC 2 to a 3-1 win with his first professional hat trick.
All three of his goals came in the final 10 minutes of the match versus Arizona (8W-10L-6D).
Coming off a lengthy break, the ‘Caps (11W-6L-7D) opted to make four changes to their starting lineup in comparison to the starting 11 from their last match against Orange County Blues
FC: Spencer Richey slotted back in net for WFC2, while Deklan Wynne and Kadin Chung moved into the fullback positions.
In the midfield, Matthew Baldisimo made his seventh start of the season.
WFC2 also debuted their newest signing in the match, giving Chilean right back Christopher Diaz 25 minutes of play to settle in with the side.
The ‘Caps got the shot count started early, with Winnipeg native Marco Bustos chipping the ball into the box for Daniel Haber in the third minute. Haber put the ball into the net, but the play was called offside.
Thirteen minutes later, it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard first.
Arizona striker Tyler Blackwood took advantage of a misplay and giveaway by WFC2 central defender Sem de Wit, sprinting into the ‘Caps box and sending the ball past Spencer Richey to put the side up 1-0.
Kyle Greig would lead the ‘Caps counter in the 20th minute, moving into the box and passing off to unmarked Marco Bustos.
The central midfielder took a quick shot, but was robbed by Arizona goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski.
Bustos ran onto his own rebound, sending a header back towards the net, but an unconventional save off the face by Woszczynsi once again kept the ‘Caps at bay.
Early in the second stanza, it was Arizona who put the pressure on with striker Long Tan heading a cross down in the ‘Caps six-yard box. Fellow striker Chris Cortez put his foot through the ball at point blank range, but Richey made a reaction save right on his line to keep Arizona from doubling their lead.
In the 59th minute, the ‘Caps found themselves with a bit of an advantage as United midfielder Blair Gavin took his second yellow card of the match and made the long walk to the dressing room, putting his side down a man with 30 minutes to go.
WFC2 capitalized on that advantage late in the game, notching three goals in ten minutes to see the game out to a 3-1 win.
In the 84th, Thomas Gardner picked out Sanner in Arizona’s six-yard box. Getting on the end of the touch line pass, Sanner placed the ball in the back of Arizona’s net, bringing the match back even with just minutes left to go.
Sanner would put the ‘Caps ahead in the 87th, following up on his own header deep in United’s box and chipping the ball over Woszczynski for WFC2’s second goal to make it 2-1.
Some icing on the cake? A third goal for Sanner and thus his first professional hat-trick. Into added time, the ‘Caps found themselves with a two-on-one attack. Captain Kyle Greig played the ball behind Arizona’s defender into the path of Sanner, who played the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
With the win, Whitecaps FC 2 move back to the top of the table, sitting tied for first in the Western Conference with their next opponent: Sacramento Republic FC.
The ‘Caps head down to California to face their top-of-table rivals on Saturday, August 27. So far this season, the ‘Caps haven’t lost to Sacramento.
Catch the match online at whitecapsfc2.com.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m.