UWS West Conference Week 3 Preview: The defending 2016 UWS champion Blue Heat kick off 2017 season on Friday

UWS West Conference Week 3 Preview: The defending 2016 UWS champion Blue Heat kick off 2017 season on Friday

The defending UWS champion Santa Clarita Blue Heat lead the list of United Women’s Soccer (UWS) teams kicking off their seasons in Week III action. Santa Clarita don’t have to travel far for their West Conference opener as newcomers So Cal Crush FC will host them in nearby La Crescenta, CA.

For the second straight weekend, Real Salt Lake Women will host a first-year UWS West organization as highly-touted Calgary Foothills Women’s FC looks to put the veteran team in an early two-loss hole.

FRIDAY, MAY 26

So Cal Crush FC vs. Santa Clarita Blue Heat

6:00 PM PDT – Crescenta Valley H.S. (La Crescenta, CA)

It was a dream UWS debut last Saturday night for So Cal Crush FC (1-0 West) at Clyde Field in Orem, Utah as they defeated the RSL Women by a 2-0 score in their franchise opener. The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute when a giveaway fell to Crush FC forward Nancy Avesyan who assisted on midfielder Hailey James’ eventual game-winning goal. The trio of Avesyan, goalkeeper Adriana Maldonado and defender Mallory Carcich would be named to the UWS Team of the Week for their efforts in the upset victory.

But in their home opener at Crescenta Valley High School, Crush FC will have another dilemma altogether to deal with altogether as they host a strong Santa Clarita Blue Heat side. 2016 All-UWS selections Chloe Castaneda, Kelsey Gudgeon and Yadira Toraya return to the Blue Heat with standout goalkeeper Jovani McCaskill also coming back. Midfielder Viviana Villacorta’s career has skyrocketed since her tenure last summer with the 2016 UWS champions, making the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team roster while also committing to UCLA.

Yet, its the list of newcomers to the Blue Heat lineup that truly signal the organization’s 2017 intentions. Leading the way, Canadian international Lauren Sesselmann has joined the team to stake her place in the defensive midfield. A trio from the nationally-ranked Florida State Seminoles will be available for selection in Friday’s match: defender Olivia Bergau, forward Deyna Castellanos and defender Natalia Kuikka. Bergau started in 18 of 22 matches last fall, Castellanos was a NSCAA All-Southeast Region First Team selection while Kuikka was chosen as a NSCAA Third Team All-American.

Real Salt Lake Women vs. Calgary Foothills Women’s FC

7:00 PM MDT – Davis H.S. (Kaysville, UT)

If last Saturday night’s match was a dream for So Cal Crush FC, it was a nightmare for the Real Salt Lake Women (0-1 West). Hopes were high going into 2017 for the RSL Women and while they still can achieve the highest of their aspirations, a loss to start the season – especially during a summer slate where every result makes a difference – is a hard slide tackle. The team will need to get right back up off the pitch and there is no one better for that than 2016 UWS West Coach of the Year Mark Davis.

And its not like Real Salt Lake didn’t have their chances for a victory in the Crush FC loss. The home side nearly had an opening goal in the 12th minute when forward Jessica Vanderveur beat the Crush FC keeper but not the post and the ball was cleared away. After the visitors went up 1-0, the Real Women worked hard for the equalizer and in the 69th minute, midfielder Wesley Hamblin dribbled around Maldonado but her shot off was cleared off the line. A late insurance goal by Crush FC would finish the upset.

With how well the roster has been assembled by Head Coach Troye Flannery, Calgary Foothills Women’s FC looks to pose an even stiffer test as a first-year side for the hosts. Two veterans from the defending UWS champion Santa Clarita Blue Heat – Melissa Roy and Arielle Roy-Petitclerc – have joined Calgary this season. Flannery has an all-star team of the top young talent from the Calgary area at his disposal, led by midfielder Sarah Kinzner. The Colorado Buffalo star has been a member of the U-17, U-20 and U-23 Canadian Women’s National Teams.

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