Blues Defeat Washington Freedom in Title Game, 2-1
The Pali Blues remain unbeaten in two seasons of play (Photo by Jeff Kassouf)
Boyds, Md. (Friday, August 7, 2009) – Drama surrounded nearly every minute of the 2009 championship game of the USL W-League tonight at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but the end result was the same as that of the 2008 finale. Behind an 82nd minute game-winner by championship MVP Iris Mora, the Pali Blues Soccer Club prevailed despite being the visiting club to take their second consecutive USL W-League title in as many years of their existence.
“It feels so good to have two undefeated seasons, and I am so happy for our girls,” Pali head Charlie Naimo commented after taking his third crown as a coach in four championship appearances. “It’s such a fantastic feeling, and you couldn’t ask for anymore effort than what has been given by this team all year.”
Playing the role of the road warriors, the Blues completed their second cross-country trip in less than a week to battle for their second consecutive W-League title tonight at the home stadium of the Freedom. There was an early scare for Pali in the second minute of this contest when a deflected shot trailed toward an open net, but defender Jenny Anderson-Hammond was there to clear away the trouble.
The scoring in this match was opened in the 13th minute after a called foul gave Washington a free kick opportunity outside the 18. Standing over the ball was Freedom midfielder Sandra Matute, and she bent a well-struck ball around the defensive wall and into the net to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage. While the tally gave a jolt of energy to Washington, the Blues remained determined and saw their efforts pay off in the 37th minute. After Mora saw a cleverly bending corner kick attempt get punched away by Freedom netminder Eliza Bennett Hattan, Pali was awarded a second corner. Mora again put the ball into play, only this time defender Kendal Billingsley was there to equalize for the defending league champions. With the count even at one each nearing the midway point, these two clubs would hold that mark heading into intermission.
The intensity was increasing with every passing tick of the clock in the second half, and everyone with their eyes on this championship match was being treated to a fantastic affair. The Blues stayed on the offensive when they got the ball at their feet, and the drama of this match reached its pinnacle in the 86th minute. Midfielder Kristy Yallop gained possession on the right flank and delivered a cross to the middle of the field. On the receiving end of the feed was Mora, and the Mexican National Team striker quickly pounded home the game-winner.
The final minutes of the contest did not come without issue, but Pali protected their end of the field to secure their second straight championship. With the win, the Blues run their unbeaten streak in the W-League to 29 games, capping off their 2009 postseason with a travel regimen that included nearly 12,000 miles of travel.
Next up on the forefront for the Pali Blues is the support of their sister-club, the Los Angeles Sol, in the inaugural championship game of Women’s Professional Soccer on Saturday, August 22nd. As far as the Pali players are concerned, some head back to college while others look to get their shot in WPS. For all of the latest info on the two-time defending W-League champions, stay tuned to the team website at www.bluessoccerclub.com.