Blues Defeat Hudson Valley Quickstrike in W-League Semifinals, 4-0
Iris Mora led the offense with a goal and two assists (Photo by Lawrence Shin)
Newburgh, N.Y. (Friday, July 31, 2009) – The Pali Blues Soccer Club showed why they are the defending USL W-League champions tonight at Newburgh Free Academy, defeating the Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues by a tally of 4-0. With a well-balanced effort in every phase of the game, the Blues now advance to their second straight league championship game next weekend.
“It took us a while to get going at the beginning of the year, but all that matters is how you end the season. It’s humbling to be around this group of girls, and I’m just happy to see them achieving this kind of success,” Blues head coach Charlie Naimo commented after the victory, sending him to his fourth W-League championship game as a coach and second straight since moving to the West Coast.
Rain poured down on the Hudson Valley for much of the day, but calm weather conditions fought their way into Newburgh to greet these two clubs with a perfect environment for playoff soccer by the time of kickoff. Blues goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was tested early when the Quickstrike attack was able to create some opportunities in the opening minutes of this contest, but she and her defense did well to weather that early storm.
The Blues regrouped after that early push by Hudson Valley, and they very quickly engaged a shift in the offensive momentum. They began to get off some quality shots toward their target, and their aggressive play paid dividends in the 14th minute of the match. It was then that midfielder Christen Press collected the ball on the right flank and sent a hard strike over to Jodie Taylor in the center of the field. Taylor then weaved her way through traffic until seeing her opening from more than 30 yards out, and she then launched a bomb past the outstretched arms of Quickstrike netminder Ashley Thompson to give the defending W-League champions a 1-0 advantage.
The Blues continued to display their high level of class throughout the remainder of the opening half, and Mexican National Team forward Iris Mora was able to stretch the gap to 2-0 in the 45th minute of the game. The All-Western Conference selection received a feed from Press on the right wing and capitalized on the room she was afforded by the Hudson Valley defense. From 25 yards out, she struck a powerful volley into the back of the net to give her team a two goal lead going into intermission.
The Blues kept their foot on the throttle when the second half of action got started, and Mora made the most of being given too much space once again in the 50th minute. Making a run on the right wing, she one-touched a cross to the middle of the field, and midfielder Kelley O’Hara fought off a pair of Quickstrike defenders to punch in the third Blues goal of the evening.
Hudson Valley continued to battle, and forward Angelika Johansson nearly got Quickstrike on the board when she created a 1v1 chance for herself in the 59th minute. As soon as she saw Johansson break free, Harris came out from her post to make a spectacular diving save to stop the run and keep the slate clean. Rewarding their goalkeeper for her efforts, the Blues made it 4-0 in the 65th minute when Mora set up a Lauren Cheney tally. From that point forward, the Blues defense buckled down to complete the shutout.
“We saw when they came out that they were motivated,” Mora said after the game. “We knew we had to stay composed and defend on both ends of the field. We played like a team and a unit out there, and I’m just so proud of all my teammates.”
The win extends the Blues unbeaten streak to 28 games and advances them to their second title appearance in as many years of existence. The Blues now await the winner of a Saturday night pairing between the Ottawa Fury and Washington Freedom.
For all of the championship updates concerning the Pali Blues, stay tuned to the team website at www.bluessoccerclub.com.