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Updated: Highlanders kickstart season with win at opener
Brett Levis’ debut was a sharp one as the dynamic striker was in on all three goals for the Victoria Highlanders on Saturday at Royal Athletic Park.
Levis scored once and assisted on goals by Thomas Mallette and Jordie Hughes as the Highlanders won its Professional Development League home opener 3-0 over the visiting Kitsap Pumas.
“We hoped for a good performance and good result, and I think 3-0 is more than we’d really expected, a good start,” said head coach Steve Simonson.
Victoria soccer fans will have to wait two weeks for the next home match. The Highlanders top men’s side now enters a bye week followed by a road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday (May 17) and a home game versus the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (May 19) at RAP.
“The way the schedule is set up this year, to accommodate the multi-use park we’ve got to get our home games in early. It’s also based on a tight schedule for everyone else in the PDL,” Simonson said.
Having an early bye week is not all bad. It gives the club more time to prepare as a team, as the club finalized key additions, such as Brett Levis, last week.
“We need to work towards where we want to be and definitely have more work to do,” Simonson said.
It’s Simonson’s first full season at the helm, having come on late in 2012 and his recruiting has paid early dividends. Levis, in particular, signed last week and comes from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.The striker finished second in scoring in the Canada West conference this year with nine goals and six assists while being named a Second Team All-Canadian.
“Levis came to us through dialogue between Huskies coach Bryce Chapman and I,” Simonson said. “He is always looking to help his players move on and it opened the door to bringing him here.”
Levis, pronounced in the same fashion as the famous blue jeans brand, is a dynamic and shifty player who is dangerous in many ways, as exhibited on Saturday with a goal and two assists.
“He’s a good dribbler and is so comfortable on the ball, he can toy his way through defenders, and it has that cascading effect, it opens up play for somebody else,” Simonson said.
Despite the win it’s still too early to gauge the Highlanders.
“The May 17 to 19 weekend will be a telling one,” Simonson said, as the Highlanders take on two of the three top teams, the Whitecaps, with players on pro contracts, and the reigning division champion Sounders.