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Switchbacks drop playoff heartbreaker to Vancouver

September 30, 2016 Updated: September 30, 2016 at 10:05 pm
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photo - Switchbacks David Armstrong and Josh Phillips (left to right) agonize after losing in the playoffs to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Switchbacks Stadium on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The Colorado Springs Switchbacks lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1, ending their season. photo by Jerilee Bennett,The Gazette
Switchbacks David Armstrong and Josh Phillips (left to right) agonize after losing in the playoffs to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Switchbacks Stadium on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The Colorado Springs Switchbacks lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1, ending their season. photo by Jerilee Bennett,The Gazette 

One bad bounce and the Switchbacks season was over.

The winning goal was a tough-luck score with a shot by Kianz Froese from 18 yards out caroming off a Switchbacks' defender leg and past goalkeeper Devala Gorrick (three saves) in the 31st minute for a 2-1 lead.

It would be all the Whitecaps 2 needed to upset the third-seeded Switchbacks 2-1 on Friday night in the opening round of the United Soccer League playoffs. It was Vancouver's first postseason win.

"We just lost focus and it cost us," midfielder Rony Argueta said.

"It's disappointing," said captain Luke Vercollone, who scored Colorado Springs' only goal. "We had the lead and couldn't hold it."

Two defensive breakdowns were all Vancouver (13-9-9), which entered the game with an average age of 21, needed to pull away. Leading scorer Kyle Greig took advantage of a loose ball in front of the Switchbacks to fire a low, bouncing shot past Gorrick to tie the game at 1-1 in the 17th minute.

The normally sound and aggressive Switchbacks defense was caught flatfooted and watching the ball on both Vancouver goals.

"We didn't read the ball (off the corner kick) right and it went short and ended up bouncing in front," Argueta said.

The goal for the Switchbacks (14-10-7) came off a midfield turnover forced by Miguel Gonzalez, who sent the ball downfield to a streaking defender Josh Suggs.

Suggs advanced up field and fired a crossing pass that Vercollone headed in for the 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. It was the kind of start Colorado Springs was looking for (the Switchbacks went 14-3-5 when going ahead 1-0 this past season) but the hosts could not get the back-breaking second goal.

Instead, Vancouver answered six minutes later and the Whitecaps 2, which had only two players with playoff experience, rallied.

Colorado Springs could not record the tying goal late for the 2,405 fans in attendance as Vancouver defended well and then counterattacked, possessing the ball in the Colorado Springs end to milk the clock.

Goalkeeper Spencer Richey (three saves) came up big, charging forward to snuff out a Switchbacks scoring chance in the 90th minute, only three minutes after he made a diving stop to retain the lead.

"We started off well and we got the first goal but we just lost focus and it cost us," forward Mike Seth said. "But that's the playoffs. It's a tough way for the season to end."

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