(photo credit Dirk Fontaine)
CALGARY, AB - In a re-match of two West Conference rivals, Calgary Foothills WFC (7-1-1) and LA Galaxy OC (7-1-2) took part in the National Final of the 2019 United Women's Soccer (UWS) Championship at the Stadium Field of Mount Royal University. Calgary - the UWS West champions - had a 3-0-1 record over the past two seasons against their conference adversaries which included a 1-0-1 mark over the second-place side this past campaign. LAGOC got their first-ever victory over Foothills WFC in grand fashion via a tight 1-0 score line to win the 2019 UWS Championship. Forward Catarina Macario scored the game winning goal in the 72nd minute and goalkeeper Hillary Beall got the shutout in net. Los Angeles joins Houston (2018), Grand Rapids FC (2017) and Santa Clarita (2016) as national champions and are the fourth team to do so in league history. Macario - the reigning Hermann Trophy recipient for Stanford University - was named the Tournament MVP for her three goals scored in the semifinal and final. Click HERE for the archived broadcast on the UWS MyCujoo channel.
"We're obviously very, very excited," said LA Head Coach Scott Juniper. "Everyone has worked so hard from top to bottom at our club. [LA Galaxy OC Director of Operations] Tim Woodcock had a big vision of what we could build and he's given us the tools and the team to do it. I'm so excited for the club and for our finish as national champions this year."
"I'm proud of the group and how they represented the club, city and country," said Calgary Head Coach Troye Flannery. "Our players and staff can hold their heads high. Full credit to a deserved and exceptional LA Galaxy OC side. Being the No. 2 pro-am team in North America ain't bad for the Women in Green."
Macario gave the Calgary defense fits from the start of the match, shooting high over the cross bar in the third minute and forcing net minder Emily Burns (six saves) into a kick save the next minute. Like their National Semifinal game against the Lancaster Inferno the day before, Foothills WFC took some time to find their feet in the first half. The high press from Los Angeles was causing havoc. Burns punched away a corner kick in the 20th minute but she gave the ball away two minutes later, yet, midfielder Jenna Nighswonger could not take advantage and the Calgary keeper smothered her shot. Foothills WFC grew into the match and defender Grace Stordy's drive forward forced a corner kick in the 34th minute. LA midfielder Taylor Kornieck was a disruptive force but she drew a yellow card in the 39th minute but on the ensuing free kick deep in their opponent's half of the pitch, Calgary could not convert. The hosts could feel a little lucky as the score remained 0-0 at halftime but had the second half to fully rebound: just like in their semifinal win.
Unfortunately, LAGOC were the ones who came out of the blocks in high gear as midfielder Olivia Athens had a scoring chance in the first minute of the second half. The flow of the match went back into lock down mode as both teams battled for a quality scoring chance. Los Angeles slowly built up more chances on goal. In the 59th minute, Macario's forward run and shot from the right flank hit the cross bar and went out for a goal kick. Overall, the Foothills WFC defense were doing a good job of forcing the dangerous forward out wide. In the 68th minute, her whipped cross was caught by Burns but former U.S. Women's National Team forward Natasha Kai was waiting on her door step for a mistake. Four minutes later, defender Natalie Jacobs patiently waited for an opening near the center circle and than sent a long ball over the top towards Macario. The Stanford star held off Calgary defender Caleigh Boeckx and finished ruthlessly for the 1-0 lead. She had a chance at an insurance goal in the 90th minute but was thwarted. A late free kick for Foothills WFC went for naught.