Huntington Beach, CA – Angelina Hix found the net just seconds from the final whistle Sunday afternoon, to claim a gutsy and hard-fought 1-0 win for the San Diego SeaLions to open their 2017 WPSL PacSouth season.
"This was a tough match for 93 minutes, and lesser teams would’ve settled for a draw," said SeaLions head coach Jen Lalor. "But this win serves notice: we don’t settle. Our players never quit.”
Indeed, by the 80th minute it was clear that host South Coast FC was playing for the draw against the 2016 WPSL championship finalist SeaLions, after surviving a constant barrage of SeaLion shots, corner kicks, and forays into their end of the field. The SeaLions created nine scoring chances, including two or three open nets, in the first 45 minutes of play but could not convert. The team could have easily been up 5-0 entering the second half of play but several of their scoring opportunities ended up hitting the crossbar, the post, or being deflected by the opposing goalkeeper. As it was, SCFC managed only two shots on goal the entire match.
"We felt like we should have been up 5-0 by halftime," said San Diego captain and midfielder Rosie Tantillo-Colon (USC/FC Gold Pride). "We had great rhythm going forward, and our eagerness to get some goals had us playing a more direct attack than we normally play."
It was Tantillo Colon’s one-touch pass to Hix (Mira Costa College) who had broken open down the left side that led to the goal, a smooth left-footed shot from near the end-line that tucked just inside the right post.
“That was the most difficult shot we took all afternoon,” added Lalor. “A lot of players and teams would have missed that chance, especially in light of all the earlier chances that hadn’t succeeded. But our ladies refused to bend to the pressure, and refused to give up.”
Despite San Diego’s defensive dominance, the match very nearly ended in disaster in the 78th minute, when South Coast forward Natalia Ledezma (UC-Irvine) broke away towards San Diego’s goal and looked sure to score. It took a spectacular save from SeaLions goalkeeper Kaycee Gunion (CSU-San Marcos) to keep the score 0-0. That was the only, and last, real chance South Coast would see in the game.
"The game highlighted some of our strengths of character, and it also showed us what we should work on,” noted Assistant Coach Lu Snyder. “We also saw good things from our newcomers Monica Dolinsky (Kansas) whose link-up play in midfield kept us on the attack, and Sam Staab (Clemson), whose solid defending helped give us the confidence to repeatedly go forward. Thus the game was a success from every angle. And we will get even better!"
The SeaLions travel to Arizona on June 9-10, 2017 to face Phoenix Del Sol and Tucson FC, before returning to San Diego for San Diego Soccer Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m., and June 18, at 2:00 p.m., when they will host those same Arizona teams.
The San Diego SeaLions are a non-profit 501c3 entity dedicated to fostering women's soccer coaching, playing, and business management opportunities. It’s one of the oldest and most successful women’s soccer clubs in the USA and is a charter member of the WPSL.
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