July 27, 2007

Sunwaves reign in rain

Avenge earlier losses to Seattle, win conference

An atypical light summer rain fell for a few minutes early in the second half of the San Diego Sunwaves - Seattle Sounders USL W-League regular season finale at Torero Stadium on Sunday. Perhaps it was the San Diego soccer gods attempting to be hospitable to the visiting Sounders? Perhaps it was a tease that despite the cloudy, Seattle-like weather, it wasn’t to be their day.

The rain, like the Sounders, was stopped as the Sunwaves scored a 2 - 0 shutout over the Sounders, avenging two June losses on the road in Seattle. The win also clinched the USL W-League Western conference title for the Sunwaves in their inaugural season. In fact, the Sunwaves, who returned from their June Northwest trip sporting a 3 - 2 - 1 record, went on a 5 -1 run at home to finish the season 8 - 3 - 1 with 25 points.

The second place Sounders, who the Sunwaves will face again in the playoffs Friday July 27th, at 6:30 p.m., Southwestern College, finished 7 - 4 - 1, with 22 points.

The Sunwaves opened scoring early, when USD’s Leigh Ann Robinson took a perfect feed from Debs Brereton at the seven minute mark and put the ball past former San Diego Spirit and WUSA star goalie Carly Smolak for a 1 - 0 lead. Despite the absence of star defender Lisa Gomez (concussion), Seattle didn’t mount much of an offensive threat. The half ended 1 - 0.

“No doubt, we missed Lisa (Gomez),” said Coach Elio Bello, “but we played extremely well nonetheless. Jayme Leigh (Cargnoni) and Katie (Miyake) stepped up to fill her shoes.”  Miyake, who appeared to be in pain most of the game, played with bruised ribs suffered in Friday night’s win over the Ft. Collins Force.

The Sunwaves scored the game’s second and final goal early in the second half, as Amy Epsten, who, after being tackled near the goal, put in a penalty kick in the 57th minute. The score might have even been higher had Epsten and Maribel Dominguez converted on several other narrowly missed scoring opportunities. “We came close to blowing it open,” said Bello. “Seattle concentrated on Maribel (Dominguez), and that allowed others to break free and get open. Overall it was an interesting game. We had a good game plan on how to attack and we stuck to it, executing better in the second half.” 

The Sunwaves, who clearly outshot the Sounders were bolstered by the defense of Sunwaves goalie Sophia Perez, who’s sound play held Seattle in check.

Friday July 27th, at 6:30 p.m. The game will be played at Southwestern College instead of Torero Stadium. We will be playing the Seattle Sounders, again, this time in the first playoff game, to determine who will represent the Western Conference at the Finals in Rochester, NY, on August 3, 4 & 5.

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