The San Diego SeaLions and Salt Lake United will meet in the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Western Conference Championship final on Sunday, July 22, at Cathedral Catholic High School. The two teams earned the right to play in the finals after winning their semifinal matches on Saturday, July 21.
In the first semifinal game the Pacific-South champion SeaLions took a 2-1 win over Issaquah SC, who had finished second in the Northwest but received the nod for the playoffs when champion Spokane Shine were unable to continue.
San Diego picked up their first goal in the fifteenth minute, after SeaLions midfielder Danica Carey collided with Issaquah’s goalkeeper and a defender. As the three tumbled to the pitch and the ball dribbled away, forward Alex Webber managed to get a foot on the ball and redirect it into the net for the 1-0 lead. The score would stay that way through the remainder of the first half.
In the second half the SeaLions came out looking to open up the lead. Their chance came in the 52nd minute on another goal-mouth scramble. Once again it was Webber in the thick of things as she went into the keeper on a 50-50 ball. The two fell to the ground and the ball bounced away. Issaquah attempted to clear it, but Shelby Murphy was there to hammer the ball into the net for what would prove to be the winning goal.
Issaquah increased the pressure, and finally in the 89th minute they broke through. Issaquah forward and Trinidad & Tobago Women’s National Team member Maylee Attin-Johnson centered a pass to midfielder Abby Brauer, who then passed it along to defender Mary Hill who had pushed up past midfield. Hill took the ball in past one SeaLion defender and lofted a left-footed shot across her body that sailed just over the reach of San Diego goalkeeper Kaycee Gunion for the score.
During the play Gunion came down hard on her left shoulder, aggravating a previous injury. After several minutes she was helped off the field and Rachel Boaz came in to close out the game and help the SeaLions to the 2-1 victory.
In the nightcap California Storm, the Pacific-North champion, took on Big Sky-North champion Salt Lake United. Storm came out strong, scoring in the sixth minute when Mo Whitney fed Rachel Mercik for the goal. At that point it looked as if Storm would take the early command, but Salt Lake had not traveled all the way from Utah just to roll over.
Just six minutes later Hailey Karg brought the ball up the left wing and crossed it to Annie Hawkins who lofted it over the goalkeeper’s head for the equalizer. Hawkins then picked up the go-ahead goal in the 21st minute on an unassisted effort. It would be all Salt Lake needed, but they would strike one more time before the match ended.
In the 59th minute Hawkins was on the serving end of the third goal. Tasha Aiono came up wide and saw an opening to move into. Hawkins, going into the corner, served a perfect pass and Aiono hit it with the outside of her foot into the far post beyond the diving goalkeeper.
Storm attempted to battle back, but Salt Lake kept the lid on until the final whistle for the 3-1 victory.
The San Diego SeaLions and Salt Lake United will meet at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday to determine the winner of the Western Conference. The championship series will take place in Pensacola, Fla., next weekend, with the winners of the four regional conferences battling it out for the title.
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Good reports of exciting matches. This sounds great. Best wishes for the rest of the championship. What does the winning team get? A taste of Gromit´s buns (please see the other forum).