North Texas SC draws Vancouver Whitecaps 2 in season opener

This game recap was written by guest contributor Anthony Rubio.

North Texas SC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 drew 0-0 with Vancouver winning on penalties 4-2 to get the two points and North Texas getting one point to start the new season.

Up top making his first Next Pro start was Diego Pepi, the younger brother of Ricardo Pepi who formerly played for North Texas SC and FC Dallas.

Nolan Norris started this game for Los Toritos as the left-sided center back. Tarik Scott was at right wingback after missing all of last season when he underwent ACL and LCL reconstruction surgery.

“I am just really proud of the group for pushing and for doing the things we ask them to do,” said North Texas SC Head Coach John Gall after the game. “Whenever you get new players in the group it takes time and I think those guys came in today and showed like they have been here for a long time.”

Scott would make multiple runs on his side to start the game but was denied the final connection by the opposition defenders. Even coming back from injury, Scott still had a good burst when making his runs against the Vancouver Backline.

The North Texas defense worked hard to keep Vancouver from making any real progress in their early attacks.

A quick stoppage took place around the 18th minute so that players could break their fast for Ramadan.

The first half would end 0-0 with North Texas having 66% of the possession and the only shot on target.

The second half started with both sides playing with a renewed desire to score as the clubs traded scoring chances.

In the 56th minute, Vancouver’s Jay Herdman was denied a goal by an amazing save by the fully stretched-out Michael Collodi.

North Texas had a promising attack themselves shortly after when a header from Pepi went just wide of the goal in the 58th.

An aggressive sliding tackle by Tomas Pondeca on Mihail Gherasimencov just outside of the 18-yard box gave Vancouver a dangerous free kick, but Eliot Goldthorp‘s attempt went just over the net.

Another chance came for North Texas as Pondeca made a cutback pass for Scott from about 10 yards out with Scott’s shot going just wide of the net.

A card-worthy foul by Norris gave Vancouver a chance later in the game. Lowell Wright would try to take a shot on goal from the free kick but hit the North Texas wall.

Starting a counter off the free kick rebound, Scott passed out to Enes Sali who returned the pass. Scott took on almost the entire Whitecaps defense before getting off a shot from a tight angle that Max Anchor saved.

Pondeca got one final shot off literally seconds before the final whistle but was unable to steal the game.

Gall said his side was just a bit short during the game. “I think putting the ball in the back of the net [was the missing piece]. We had a couple of chances, the boys are trying, it’s early in the season. Sometimes those things take a little bit of time.”

The game went to penalty kicks after ending 0-0 in regulation. Saved shots from NTX takers Carl Sainte and Anthony Ramirez would prove to be the difference as North Texas left the home opener with only one point.

“We competed really well,” said Gall. “The important thing is not to be too down. Penalty kicks are a coin flip, anyone can win, anyone can lose. It’s just important that we played well today. We had some really proud performances and we’re really proud of the group.”

North Texas travels to CITYPARK where they will face St Louis CITY on March 24th at 6 pm on Apple TV.

Tomas Pondeca shoots against Vancouver Whitecaps 2, March 15, 2024. (Courtesy North Texas SC)
Tomas Pondeca shoots against Vancouver Whitecaps 2, March 15, 2024. (Courtesy North Texas SC)

North Texas SC — Michael Collodi; Tarik Scott, Nico Gordon, Carl Sainté, Nolan Norris; Diego García (Anthony Ramirez – 77’), Nick Mendonca (Dylan Lacy – 86’), Tomas Pondeca, Abdoul Zanne; Enes Sali, Diego Pepi (Malik Henry-Scott – 80’).
Substitutes not used — Victor Darub, Amet Korça, Turner Humphrey, Leo Londe, Lautaro Taboada, Alejandro Urzua.
Whitecaps FC 2  — Max Anchor; Finn Linder, Immanuel Mathe, Belal Halbouni, Mihail Gherasimencov; Jeevan Badwal, Malcolm Simmons, Eliot Goldthorp; Jay Herdman (Liam Mackenzie – 67’), Nicolas Fleuriau Chateau (Cyprian Kachwele – 67’), Lowell Wright.
Substitutes not used — Trystan Read, Buster Sjöberg, Joshué Ndakala, Darko Ilić, Malek Mehri.
Misconduct Summary:
NTX: Diego Pepi (yellow card) – 37’
VAN: Belal Halbouni (yellow card) – 76’
NTX: Nolan Norris (yellow card) – 81’

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