By John Philip Wyllie
The San Diego Spirit completed their preseason schedule last week by dominating a quartet of well-regarded collegiate teams by a combined score of 17-2. The matches were played in preparation for the Spirit's inaugural regular season opener Sunday night at USD's Torero Stadium. The string of consecutive victories lifted the team's spirits (no pun intended) and raised its overall preseason record to a respectable six wins against four loses.
The Spirit's Mexican-American connection, forward, Erin Montoya and defender, Gina Oceguera played solidly throughout with Montoya recording her first two goals of the season last Friday night in the 4-1 rout over the University of Utah.
"The first one was supposed to be a cross," she said laughing about her goal scored from a nearly impossible angle in the right corner. "I sort of miss-hit it, but whatever works," she shrugged. Montoya added a second goal following the intermission and sent several well placed crosses in from both wings. Part of her value lies in her versatility to play a variety of positions.
"I can play on either the left or right side and sometimes even up top," said the former Santa Clara University star. I'm used to moving around a lot from my days playing in college." While Montoya will remain a reserve heading into the Spirit's Sunday home opener, her two-goal performance made a positive impression on her coach, Carlos Juarez.
"Erin is capable of scoring at any time and today she showed it with two very nice goals. She adds a spark to our attack," Juarez said. "I'm very pleased to have her here because she can come in at any time either as a starter or off the bench and have an impact on the game."
Oceguera, who played for Mexico in the '99 Women's World Cup, was perhaps less spectacular, but equally composed when called upon to make plays from her left back position. She too received substantial playing time as she prepared for her role within the Spirit defense. By giving the duo valuable game experience, Juarez addressed the team's need to develop its depth. Like all of their Spirit teammates, Montoya and Oceguera are excited to see their dream of playing in a top level professional soccer league, become a reality.
The San Diego Spirit play host to the Philadelphia Charge featuring San Diego's own Mandy Clemens on Sunday, April 22 at 7:00 at USD's Torero Stadium. For tickets and information please call 1 (877) 4SOCCER or (619) 220-8497.