By John Philip Wyllie
It has been four years since the San Diego Spirit women’s professional soccer team played at USD’s Torero Stadium. This weekend, a new women’s team will attempt to recapture the excitement and enthusiasm that the Spirit created there. The San Diego Sunwaves opened their season on the road last month and after a five-game road trip and last week’s 0-1 home opening loss sit in second place in the Western Conference standings with a 3-2-1 W-League record. The team is captained by Mexican national team goalkeeper, Sophia Perez, a former SDSU Aztec.
“We began practicing at the end of April and now we are fit,” Perez said prior to a recent practice. “We just crushed Colorado. All of the kinks that we showed in our (exhibition) game here (on May 18) have been worked out. We are playing well together and I am really excited to start playing (the second part of the season) here at home.”
While the roster features an international roster that includes several players from England, Perez will also be joined by a number of players that share her local connections. Among them are: Amy Epsten and Leigh Robinson (USD), Jayme Cargoni (Mt. Carmel High) and Lizzy Karoly (San Pasqual High). Lisa Gomez, a veteran Mexican national team defender will also be teaming up with Perez once again.
Perez and Gomez had hoped that they would instead be preparing for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, but Mexico, a two-time participant in the quadrennial event, was edged out this time by Japan. So, with no World Cup to prepare for, the members of Mexico’s national team are playing in various places all over the world. In the case of Perez and Gomez, Mexico’s loss was the Sunwaves gain.
Sunwaves coach, Elio Bello is pleased to once again have Perez minding his net.
“This is the third season that I have been working with her and she is one of the top goalkeepers in California. She has saved a lot of games for us and she brings a lot of value to the team. Sophia also serves as our team captain.”
Perez is pleased with the team’s progress to date and thinks that things should only get better as the season progresses.
“I want our team to continue working well together. I feel confident that we are going to win every time we go out there. It is nice to be able to relax a little on the field and know that I have 10 players in front of me that will watch my back and help us to win.”
With a solid lineup and off to a strong start, the Sunwaves have momentum on their side. What they are looking for now are more fans on their sidelines.
“I want to invite everyone that came to our first (exhibition) game to come back. We are going out there on the field to give them a great show. We did really well offensively and scored two goals (in that first exhibition match). Now we have worked out all the kinks on defense so it will be great for everyone to see how we are coming together.”
The Sunwaves take on the Mile High Edge tonight at 6:30 and again on Sunday June 24 at 3:00 p.m. at USD’s Torero Stadium. For tickets and additional information access the Sunwaves website: www.sandiegosunwaves.com