Victoria Highlanders FC severed ties to the United Soccer League’s W-League and will focus its top tier of women’s play in the Pacific Coast Soccer League for the 2013 campaign.
“We’re pleased with [the decision],” Mark deFrias, general manager of all Highlanders’ programs confirmed on Thursday afternoon. “We know we can continue to help these young women move on to the NCAA or CIS teams and hopefully a few of them will make it onto the W-League programs or the new professional league.”
A new eight-team professional North American circuit has forced changes in the landscape of women’s soccer. Earlier this month, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced they were withdrawing from the W-League in 2013.
The Highlanders have essentially followed suit and will keep their rivalry with the Whitecaps intact in the PCSL.
“On the men’s side of the house we continue to operate the [Premier Development League] Under-23 team and I think it makes a lot of sense to have the women’s program not to be at the top level of women’s soccer in North America. It didn’t make sense for us both economically and on a developmental standpoint.
“So this decision will help on both those fronts. More importantly, it will allow us to continue to work on the women’s game here in Victoria.
“We’ll still have that top tier for women’s football here in Victoria and we’ll still be able to move youth up to the top levels and help them on to whatever their career aspirations might be.”
Members of last year’s Peninsula Co-op club will have to decide individually whether to return for the 2013 campaign under coach Dave Dew.
“I don’t see them not wanting to participate. The Pacific Coast League is a very strong league for the girls to play in. We see this as an opportunity to continue to develop athletes,” said deFrias.
The team will begin play in the 12-team league — which includes teams from Vancouver, Coquitlam, Surrey, Abbotsford and Kamloops — in May with a schedule being finalized and likely released next month.
“We remain strong supporters of the USL W-League and wish all the teams in the Western Conference the best of luck as they bring back the cup to the West Coast,” said Dew, director of female development for the Highlanders. “The opportunity to realize better results in league play with a team derived from a mixture of young developmental and veteran players is better for the long term development of top-level women’s players.
“Looking onwards we commit to maintain the high standards of development in the women's game and look forward to the upcoming season in the PCSL.”
CORNER KICKS: DeFrias says the Highlanders have already sold 300 season-ticket packages, on its way to hopefully reaching 800 by May, when the seasons begin for the men and women.
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