GRANDVILLE, MI - The Santa Clarita Blue Heat (9-0) took the final step towards defending their 2016 United Women’s Soccer (UWS) title on Friday afternoon at Grandville High School, defeating Detroit Sun FC (7-3-3) by a 3-0 score in the first UWS National Semifinal. Santa Clarita now moves on to Saturday night’s 2017 UWS National Championship match and will take on the winner of tonight’s second National Semifinal between the Grand Rapids FC Women (10-1-1) and the Long Island Rough Riders (8-2-1). The Blue Heat were led by three different scorers as midfielder Deyna Castellanos tallied the eventual game-winner in first half stoppage time to send her side to the National Final.
“It was truly an amazing effort from our team today,” said Santa Clarita Owner and Technical Director Carlos Marroquin. “Detroit were a tough team but our patience showed through. We got great performances from many players, and from all over the field. We’re honored to defend our 2016 national title and will bring our best on Saturday night.”
Even though the Blue Heat were victorious in the end, it was the Sun offense that shone early as they had an early scoring chance. But Santa Clarita would methodically put their stamp on the match, and Detroit goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem proved to be the difference on defense and offense for her team. Blue Heat forward Carolina Venegas was thwarted by Clem in the 12th minute and than the University of Wisconsin shot-stopper punched away a free kick four minutes later. In the 21st minute, Clem tipped a 35-yard blast over the cross bar from defender Natalie Kuikka. But in the 40th minute, Blue Heat keeper Ryann Torrero had to fly out of goal to punch away a dangerous, long-range free kick from Clem herself.
As the first half winded down, Santa Clarita’s attack became more & more ruthless and in injury time, they recycled a defensive clearance back towards the Sun penalty area and Venegas gathered the ball and fed Castellanos in on goal. The Florida State star finished clinically with her left foot inside the near post for the 1-0 score. Detroit opened up the second half with a offensive flurry but the West Conference champions steadily got their foothold back on the tempo of the match. In the 63rd minute, Castellanos fired in a free kick from the right flank that defender Lauren Sesselmann got her head on. Forward Kodi Lavrusky finished the ball off for the 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, the Blue Heat broke the Sun offside trap and midfielder Chloe Castaneda and Castellanos were sent in on a 2v1 opportunity against Clem. Castaneda juked the beleaguered keeper and passed the ball into the open net for the final 3-0 score. Santa Clarita finished out the match and now look to be in good shape to defend their 2016 UWS title on Saturday night at Grandville High School.
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.
Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at UWSPress@gmail.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara, Jr. by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.