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Photos: Altitude FC gets fans on their feet in charged home opener

Both the women’s and men’s squads played Nanaimo’s Harbourside FC at Kinsmen Field in North Vancouver

The North Shore’s semi-pro soccer club has set sky-high expectations with a charged home opener on Wednesday.

Fans were bringing energy from the bleachers, as both the women’s and men’s squads from Altitude FC kicked off the regular season on home turf at Kinsmen Field in North Vancouver.

The women were first to play, setting the pace with a high-energy, back-and-forth match. Nanaimo’s Harbourside FC provided most of the offensive pressure in the first half, and were rewarded with a goal from Jazmine Tamara Wilkinson 36 minutes in.

In the second half, play went up and down the pitch, and Harbourside’s Tannis McKay put a second goal past Altitude goalkeeper Luca Ortu.

With the clock ticking down, Altitude forward Avery Tulloch drew a penalty kick on a gritty push to the opponent’s net. She scored on the kick, giving her team a late boost of energy.

The North Shore club kept the pressure on as regular time ran out, and as the ref started to countdown the final seconds of the match, Altitude’s Jade Mitchell scored, tying up the match four minutes into stoppage time.

They were definitely on the back foot in the first half, so it was nice to see them come back, said Altitude spokesperson Mark Marshall.

The team trailed in, and then tied, its first game against Kamloops’s Rivers FC as well. “They need to figure out how to grab the lead in the first half,” he said.

Coming off a loss in their Rivers FC match, the Altitude men came into Wednesday’s game with a newfound sense of aggression.

After a scoreless first half, the club’s Athos Michellepis De Siquiera put one past the Harbourside keeper at 57 minutes. That was followed by another successful strike from Carson Emanuel Buschman-Dormand, extending Altitude’s lead to two.

Nanaimo’s Hatim El Azahari scored in the final minutes of play, but it was too little too late.

Mothers and grandmothers get free admission to Saturday's game

With a tough season in the rearview mirror, Wednesday’s win was an important victory, Marshall said.

“Our men’s team played with a lot of confidence,” he said. “They controlled the play in that game and they deserved that victory.”

From the bleachers, the hometown crowd was riled up, with high school soccer teams in attendance from Carson, Sutherland and Argyle.

It’s nice for young athletes to see what a potential future in sport can look like, Marshall said.

Next up for Altitude is another matchup at home, with a rematch against both squads from Rivers FC on Saturday, May 11, starting at 1 p.m.

“All mothers and grandmothers get in free,” Marshall said.