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Semi-pro soccer team earns another season

Rooks’ year winds down; were successful enough to stay in WPSL

Posted: July 4, 2009 9:35 p.m.
Updated: July 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The Premier Santa Clarita Valley Rooks' first season in the Women's Premier Soccer League's Pacific South Division may not have yielded many wins, but it did prove to be a productive campaign that will lead to another year for the team in the league.

The Rooks scored their first win last week when Chelsea Riggins hit Adriene Dickerson, who knocked home the only goal in a game against Claremont. The victory ended a seven-game losing streak for the Rooks, but the team's inaugural season has been about much more than wins and losses.

PSCV has built a growing fan base at home games held at Canyon High School and hopes to move to a larger location - such as College of the Canyons - in 2010.

"We want to build this team through the community," said Rooks general manager Pat Riggins. "I think it has really been working out because we draw 100 to 200 people a night at our games, and some of the other teams that we play may have less people in the stands than on the field. We have gotten a lot of help from local businesses, and we are currently working on getting sponsorships to help this team to continue to grow."

Donations primarily funded the team, which closes its season on July 11 against San Diego.

While the fiscal future of the team may still be slightly up in the air, it is clear that the Rooks have had no problem drawing players. There are currently 36 women on the Rooks from areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley, Kern and Ventura counties, including players with various amounts of international and college experience.

"When we were wondering if we could even get this team together," Riggins said. "We held tryouts and some girls didn't want to try out because they felt like they just deserved a spot. Now we have girls calling us to see about getting on the team, so it shows how far we have come in a very short amount of time. I think we'll probably get at least half of our players back next year, so it's nice that we never have to worry about having 20 players to suit up."

As the semi-pro squad has grown in popularity it has also progressed on the field.

On June 6, Dickerson scored the first goal in team history, giving the squad a brief lead against the San Diego Sea Lions. The Sea Lions rallied to win, but the score was the initial step toward victory for the Rooks.

"The commitment that our players have shown this year is what I think has been most impressive," Riggins said. "For them to be this dedicated and playing this hard when they aren't even getting paid shows how much they love this game. I think a lot of our players have shown us the kind of players that we need to help keep this team improving. More mature players really do well in this league."

The increased level of maturity from the Rooks is a major reason Riggins sees so much promise in the team's future. Several members of the team also spend time as soccer coaches, which has helped their knowledge of the game and team chemistry.

Since they opened practice in February the Rooks have grown closer as a unit.

"As I like to put it, there's no snarling and growling on this team," Riggins said. "You can tell that these girls are here to play together and that a lot of them are going to be friends forever. The positive impact that this team has made is a huge step for soccer in this area, and the local community has been tremendously positive."


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