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2016 UWS West Conference Year In Review

07/28/2016, 2:15pm EDT
By Admin

Dramatic title race went down to the final game of season

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - This past season in the West Conference of United Women’s Soccer (UWS), the race for the title was most likely one of the most dramatic ever seen at the pro-am level of the sport. Three teams were in the running to be West champions going into the final weekend of the season, with the Santa Clarita Blue Heat (4-1-3) emerging victorious after the Houston Aces drew 2-2 with the Colorado Pride in the last conference game. Santa Clarita will host the East Conference champions New Jersey Copa F.C. (8-1-1) this Saturday in the final battle for the league crown.

The way the Blue Heat opened the 2016 West slate in Houston on May 21, the casual observer must have thought they would run away with the West title. Kodi Lavrusky would be named UWS West Offensive Player of the Week for her two-goal performance in the dominating win over the Aces. That result signaled a call of intent to the rest of the conference, and they would in turn respond as Santa Clarita went 0-1-2 in their next three games. Two 1-1 draws against the Colorado Storm and Real Salt Lake Women would be followed by a 4-3 loss to the Aces in their rematch on June 18th.

But after that home loss to Houston - where they held a 3-1 lead in the second half - the Blue Heat responded and went undefeated in their last four games. They took down West contenders RSL by a 2-1 score in the next game, and outscored their opposition by an 11-5 margin in their 2-0-1 regular season finish. Santa Clarita would have four of the top 5 scorers in the West, with Kasandra Massey leading the way (five goals, three assists). Chloe Castaneda (team-leading four assists) would be named the UWS West Player of the Year and she, Massey, Kelsey Gudgeon and Yadira Toraya would make the All-West First Team.

For all their guile, team work and veteran leadership, the Real Salt Lake Women (4-2-2) just could not put enough wins together this season. And that is a head-scratcher as RSL Head Coach Mark Davis had a great command of his team (five players were named All-West) and was recognized by his peers as UWS West Coach of the Year. But, unfortunately he & his team had to sit & watch as the title was decided, since they were the first West team to complete their campaign. The Real Women were one of the three teams that still had a chance at the conference title going into the final weekend, but they would have to settle for a second-place finish.

RSL opened with a disappointing 1-0 loss to Houston on May 28, who had just been the victim of a tough defeat to the Blue Heat. After that result, they would take the lead in the West race, going 3-0-1 and out-scoring their opponents by a 10-5 margin. A 2-1 loss at Santa Clarita on June 25th stalled their momentum, and than they suffered a result that truly ended their shot at the title. On June 29th vs. the Storm at home, RSL had the lead and were playing against 10 players (due to a Colorado red card) but allowed a late second-half stoppage time goal in the 1-1 draw. In hindsight, a win would’ve captured the West crown.

The Houston Aces (4-3-1) were the team that threw a wrench into the plans of Santa Clarita and Real Salt Lake, as they would rebound from a 1-0-3 start to the season and make a late title run. After their season-opening loss, Houston held a determined RSL team at bay and left Utah like a bandit in the night. Two losses to RSL and the Pride would follow before they went on a 3-0-1 run to end their 2016 slate. The Aces had a 2-1 lead over the Pride at home in the season finale, but the visitors scored a late equalizer in the 2-2 draw which scuttled Houston’s title hopes. The trio of Tatiana Ariza, Isabella Echeverri Restrepo and Courtney Seelhorst would be named to the All-West Team.

After two very successful seasons in the now-defunct W-League, the Colorado Pride (2-4-2) started their UWS West campaign with two wins over their in-state rival Storm. But after a strong start, the Pride would suffer losses to the Aces & the Real Women and returned to a .500 record. They would have nearly a month off until their next match at RSL on July 7th, and it showed in a 5-0 loss. With three games left, they still had a chance to win the topsy-turvy West race with three wins but instead went 0-1-2. They would still get a tip of the cap from the league office after all was said and done, as Lexi Long, Kaitlyn Johnson and Mariel Gutierrez made the All-West Team.

No other team was more indicative of the week-in, week-out high level of competition in the West than the Colorado Storm (1-5-2), who despite finishing in last-place still only had a -8 goal differential. Any mathematically-inclined soccer fan can theorize that after a eight game schedule that means you’re giving your opponents all they can handle. After a 0-2-1 start to the season, the Storm would defeat Houston by a 2-1 score at home on June 10 for their lone win of 2016. Olivia Blaber would be named UWS West Offensive Player of the Week for her game-winner. In the end, the defensive duo of Elle Sweeney and Alexandra Huynh were selected to the All-West Team.

Week 1:
Kodi Lavrusky - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Offensive)
Lexi Long - Colorado Pride (Defensive)
Week 2:
Paige Hayward - Houston Aces (Offensive)
Courtney Seelhorst - Houston Aces (Defensive)
Week 3:
Elena Medeiros - Real Salt Lake Women (Offensive)
Beth Plentl - Colorado Pride (Defensive)
Week 4:
Tatiana Ariza - Houston Aces (Offensive)
Olivia Blaber - Colorado Storm (Offensive)
Rebecca Ritchie - Real Salt Lake Women (Defensive)
Week 5:
Tatiana Ariza - Houston Aces (Offensive)
Jessica Vanderveur - Real Salt Lake Women (Offensive)
Stephanie Ringwood - Real Salt Lake Women (Defensive)
Week 6:
Chloe Castaneda - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Offensive)
Yadira Toraya - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Defensive)
Week 7:
Week 8:
Kira Sharp - Real Salt Lake Women (Offensive)
Kelsey Gudgeon - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Defensive)
Week 9:
Julia Hernandez - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Offensive)
Kasandra Massey - Santa Clarita Blue Heat (Offensive)
Mykiaa Minniss - Colorado Pride (Defensive)

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 You can visit the league’s official website at Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara by e-mail at

Tag(s): News |   Houston Aces  Santa Clarita Blue Heat  Colorado Pride  Colorado Storm  Real Salt Lake