The San Diego SeaLions opened WPSL action with exhibition victories against California Storm and Central California HEAT. Photo Credit: San Diego SeaLions
Women's Soccer News: WPSL San Diego SeaLions Start Soccer Season with Two Victories
SeaLions Dominate in Inter-Conference Exhibition Matches Over the Weekend
The San Diego SeaLions returned home victorious late Sunday night after earning two wins on the road against teams in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Pacific North Conference. On Saturday, the SeaLions beat the California Storm 3-1, then less than 24 hours later, earned a 4-0 victory over Central California HEAT.
Head Coach Jen Lalor-Nielsen commented on the weekend as a whole. "This weekend completely exceeded my expectations,” she said. “It was such a pleasure to see this team compete, score seven goals in two games, and dictate the play against two respectable WPSL teams. Off the field, the team really came together and bonded, which will be extremely beneficial as we head into our first league match on June 2nd."
On Saturday, San Diego took the lead in the 26th minute against the Storm on a goal by newcomer Britney Snook. The SeaLions got a second goal in the 51st minute when center midfielder Rosie Tantillo bent the ball with her left foot, curling it into the far corner of the goal past an outstretched Storm goalkeeper. Midfielder, Judy Christopher, tallied the third goal in the 68th minute of play with a 25 yard strike. The Storm got a last minute goal preventing SeaLions' goalkeeper Rachel Boaz from getting the team's first shutout.
"The team moved the ball well, creating a lot of scoring opportunities," said SeaLions' Assistant Coach Bo Nielsen. "Despite early missed chances, they played well and dominated from beginning to end."
Coach Nielsen feels that the team is at a higher starting point this year than compared to last year. He attributes some of that to the quality preseason scrimmages they had with UCSD, Miramar College and San Diego Christian College. "The team has responded well to the system of play, but we still have a few minor tactical issues to work out before we start the regular season."
At Fresno City College on Sunday the SeaLions recorded their first shutout of 2012 against the Central California HEAT. Forward Nikki Petracca netted an early goal to put the SeaLions up 1-0 in the 12th minute. Just before the end of the first half, Petracca sent a through ball to another newcomer, Shelby Murphy who hit the ball first time with her right foot, putting it past the keeper to give San Diego a 2-0 lead. Early into the second half, a hand ball was called on SeaLions' defender Alea DeSantis, giving the HEAT a penalty kick. The shot was saved by returning starting goalkeeper Kaycee Gunion.
"That save was huge," said SeaLions' General Manager Amie Becker. "Every soccer player knows how difficult it is for a goalie to save a PK. Kaycee always comes up big for us. That's what makes her one of the best keepers in the country."
The SeaLions drew a foul in the 66th minute earning them a free kick 35 yards from goal. Petracca sent the ball into the penalty box finding Tantillo, who buried her second goal of the weekend. With two minutes of play remaining, Murphy received the ball on the left flank, cut it inside, and dribbled straight into the box nailing a shot into the far right corner of the net for her second goal of the game. It was a textbook finish that helped San Diego earn a 4-0 shutout over Central California.
"There were moments in today's game that as a coach you just sit back and enjoy," said Lalor-Nielsen. "The remarkable thing about this team is that we are starting now where we left off last year-at a high level."
The SeaLions return to action on Saturday, June 2 when the club faces LA Vikings in the first regular season game of the 2012 WPSL Season. They are back home at Cathedral Catholic High School on Sunday, June 3 at 4:00 PM for the home opener against Ajax America Women.
About the San Diego SeaLions: Established in 1988, the San Diego SeaLions are one of the oldest Women's soccer clubs in the United States. The SeaLions were one of 6 founding members of the WPSL, a league that now has over 70 teams across the Nation and is currently the largest Women's Soccer league in the world. For additional information, visit sealionsoccer.com.
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