July 30, 2016
FEEL THE HEAT
Santa Clarita takes UWS title with 2-1 win over Copa
SANTA CLARITA, Calif.--- Julia Hernandez’s bicycle kick goal in the 119th minute gave the Santa Clarita Blue Heat a 2-1 win over New Jersey Copa F.C. in the 2016 United Women's Soccer Championship.
The match started just the way it ended, with the West Conference champions on the front foot. Santa Clarita (5-1-3) got on the score board first in the 9th minute when Kodi Lavrusky sent Hernandez in on a breakaway. She fired her shot past Copa goalkeeper Christiana Ogunsami for the 1-0 lead. The hosts almost went up by two goals just four minutes later. Arielle Roy’s header off a Kasandra Massey cross went just wide of the right post.
The East champions grew into the match as the half progressed. League-leading scorer Krystyna Freda had an opportunity to notch her 16th goal of the season in the 30th minute, but Blue Heat keeper Jojo McCaskill tipped her laser over the cross bar. Freda had another chance just a minute later but her header flew wide of the post. Ogunsami robbed Hernandez in the 38th minute.
As the second half progressed, Copa (8-2-1) put more and more pressure on the Santa Clarita defense. Their persistence was rewarded in the 73rd minute when NJCFC earned a penalty kick. Jeanine Nunez took the kick, and while McCaskill got a hand on her shot, the ball still got past her dive into the side netting. Copa had the momentum on their side, but dangerous scoring chances by Freda and Nunez in second half stoppage time were stymied by the Blue Heat goalkeeper.
The first overtime period started out in favor of the East champions, with Freda and Nunez again testing McCaskill. In the 102nd minute, though, Santa Clarita was awarded their own penalty kick but Kelsey Gudgeon’s shot from the spot flew high over the crossbar. From there, it was Ogunsami who took over the show in goal, making a one-handed save on a Mele French bid in the 106th minute and stopping a Hernandez scoring chance in the 112th minute.
With the championship match looking like it was going to go to penalty kicks, Hernandez conjured up a piece of magic. Off a corner kick, the ball was headed out towards the back post by a NJCFC defender. Diana Redman one-timed the clearance back towards the front of goal and Hernandez deftly attempted a bicycle kick. Ogunsami got a hand on the shot but the ball fluttered into the net for the 2-1 final score.