EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The forecast in the race for the United Women’s Soccer (UWS) West Conference title is still cloudy. But after this week’s three games in the heart of Big Sky country, the picture could be as clear as a perfect summer day in the Rocky Mountains. The Santa Clarita Blue Heat (2-1-2) will make the two-game road trip to Colorado this weekend, playing the Storm (1-3-2) and the Pride (2-2). But first, the Colorado Pride travel to Utah to take on the Real Salt Lake Women (3-2-2) on Thursday, with the hosts looking for an important win in their final regular season match.
THURSDAY, JULY 7
Real Salt Lake Women vs. Colorado Pride (6:00 PM MDT)
Venue: East High School
840 1300 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Thursday’s match between the RSL Women and the Colorado Pride is an important match in each team’s mission to win the UWS West title. Real Salt Lake slipped up in last Thursday’s home game vs. the Colorado Storm, drawing 1-1 in a physical match that saw a Storm player get ejected. RSL needed to win their last two regular season games for their best chance to win the West title, and now have to wait until the Blue Heat, Pride and Houston Aces (3-3) finish their seasons to see if they will capture the conference crown.
The Real Women still need a win over the Pride on Thursday, and after a three-week break from action, the Colorado-based team will need to quickly get back in match shape and to winning ways as well. After a solid 2-0 start to the season, the Pride dropped their last two games to West contenders Houston (1-0 loss on June 12) and Real Salt Lake (3-2 loss on June 17) at home. For the Pride, their first big road trip of 2016 will hopefully get the team’s collective adrenaline flowing although after their first encounter with RSL, they may not need further motivation.
In an exciting match, both teams came back from a deficit to tie the game but it was the Real Women who scored last. In the 43rd minute, Bri Rohmer’s corner kick found Lexi Long, and her header gave the Pride the 1-0 lead. Michele Vasconcelos tied the match for RSL in first half stoppage time and in the 61st minute, assisted on Jess Vanderveur’s goal for the 2-1 lead. The Pride responded three minutes later as Rohmer curled her shot past Real goalkeeper Rebecca Ritchie. Natalie Norris scored the GWG for RSL in the 82nd minute, as amidst the confusion in the penalty area, she poked the ball home for the 3-2 win.
Real Salt Lake will be celebrating their first season in UWS with their fans on Thursday, as all youth (18 & under) are free when they wear a RSL jersey, RSL Women t-shirt or a UYSA club jersey. There will also be a free gift for the first 500 fans.
FRIDAY, JULY 8
Colorado Storm vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat (7:00 PM MDT)
Venue: Five Star Stadium
9360 Washington Street
Thornton, CO 80229
With a group of four teams fighting it out in the UWS West, this weekend’s two-game road trip to Colorado will be the tipping point of the 2016 season for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat. The mathematical equation isn’t complete since it depends on Thursday’s RSL-Pride result, but if Santa Clarita are victorious in both matches this weekend, they will most surely take the pole position in the West race. Three wins to end the regular season and the Blue Heat can pencil their name on the West title trophy.
Their 2-1 win over RSL at home on June 25th kept them in title race, as they came back from an early deficit to notch the vital victory. In the 12th minute, Real defender Katie Rigby’s lob went over Santa Clarita goalkeeper Jojo McCaskill and into the back of the net. The home side leveled the game at 1-1 eight minutes later, as Melissa Fernandez slotted home the equalizer past RSL keeper Erica Owens. The Blue Heat notched the game-winner in the 56th minute on Kasandra Massey’s header which kept her team’s hopes of hosting the UWS National Final intact.
Almost every match in the UWS West has been an arduous one this season, and with a tip of the cap going to the Storm. Even though they are in last place with five points, they have made their opponents work to the final whistle of each match. The Storm accomplished that last Thursday when they scored in the 90th minute in the 1-1 draw at RSL, and did the same to Santa Clarita on June 5th. Alexandra Huynh scored for the Storm in the 48th minute, while the Blue Heat had to battle into the 84th minute for Arielle Roy–Petitclerc’s equalizer.
SUNDAY, JULY 10
Colorado Pride vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat (1:00 PM MDT)
Venue: Washburn Field
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
With the current makeup of the UWS West standings, it has certainly come to the time of the season where it is almost like a knockout stage of a major tournament. If the Pride are victorious over the Real Salt Lake Women on Thursday night, Sunday afternoon’s game at Washburn Field could be a knockout-style game for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat. Their Colorado-based opponent has this advantage over every other team in the conference: if the Pride get maximum points to end their regular season, they will win the West championship.
This will be the first time the former W-League adversaries will meet in UWS play, and exactly a year to the day to the last time they competed against each other. On July 10, 2015, both teams battled it out to a 1-1 draw at Colorado College’s Washburn Field. The Pride won the season series, though, as they defeated Santa Clarita by a 3-0 score on May 30th of last year at The Master’s College. Colorado would go on to reach the W-League National Final, losing to the Washington Spirit Reserves. The first UWS West match between these two old rivals could be one of great importance as well.
Kasandra Massey leads the Blue Heat offense going into this weekend’s two-game Colorado road trip, notching four goals and an assist this season. Yadira Toraya is the top scoring defender in all of UWS, and her six points (two goals, two assists) is tied for second on the team with Kodi Lavrusky (three goals). The Pride have allowed the least amount of goals this year in not only the West but the entire league (five), but they’ve also scored the least (five). Bri Rohmer leads the team in scoring with seven points (three goals, one assist).
About United Women’s Soccer (UWS): UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
UWS is managed by EDP, a leading soccer management company that runs a number of leagues and tournaments. In addition to UWS, EDP operates youth leagues that includes an NPL league, the EDP Super Club program, the EDP Premier League and the EDP Championship League. EDP also runs EDP Futures programs for U-7’s to U-12’s and it conducts more than 20 youth tournaments, including tournaments within its EDP Cup Series and EDP Showcase Series.
Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at Press@UWSSoccer.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.