Victoria Highlanders’ Simon Norgrove on a comeback, with dreams of bigger plays

Simon Norgrove of the Victoria Highlanders is part of the heavy crease traffic on the Island. But this is the type of jam you don’t mind.

Norwegian League pro Simon Thomas from Oak Bay is on the Canada roster for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and looking to cement the No. 2 Canadian goalkeeping spot behind Champions League ’keeper Milan Borjan as 2022 World Cup qualifying looms. Highlanders-grad Nolan Wirth of Comox is playing pro in the CPL with home-Island Pacific FC and fellow goalkeeper Sean Melvin of Victoria is under contract to the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS.

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Norgrove, meanwhile, has fashioned the top comeback story of the Island crease group after missing all of last season due to injury. The Reynolds Secondary graduate then incurred a separate injury this season before returning late in the campaign to backstop Westcastle United to its first VISL Jackson Cup championship in franchise history this spring. That has led into the USL 2 season with the Highlanders, which continues today at 2 p.m. at Centennial Stadium against Seattle Sounders U-23.

“I have not had good luck with injuries, but my body is feeling better now,” said Norgrove, who, at 20, is several years younger than Thomas, Wirth or Melvin.

Norgrove recorded the clean sheet last week as the Highlanders blanked Portland Timbers U-23 2-0 after a season-opening 1-1 draw against Lane United.

Sounders U-23, meanwhile, are 1-1-1.

It is Norgrove’s third season with the Highlanders and the dream is to eventually play pro in the CPL or Europe.

“We have three really good goalies, but will most likely stay with Simon [today against Seattle] and take it from there,” said Highlanders coach Thomas Niendorf.

Norgrove is known for his ability to start attacks.

“I used to play out, which helps me do that,” said the six-foot-one ’keeper.

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