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New sports franchise on its way

United Soccer Leagues women’s team moving to Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: December 18, 2009 10:37 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
An elite women's soccer team is headed to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Starting with the 2010 season, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat will join the United Soccer Leagues' W-League ranks, the USL announced on its official Web site, Thursday.

The Blue Heat have the option of playing at the professional or amateur level. If college players are used, the team must maintain an amateur status.

But Carlos Marroquin, owner of the club, said the team will go pro.

"Oh definitely," he said. "Hopefully in two or three years we can have a very heavy team. My goal for this season is at least going to playoffs. (It) would be great for the city."

Collaborating with the city of Santa Clarita, Marroquin secured the College of the Canyons as the team's home field.

In fact, the organization has worked closely with city hall on logistics and marketing.

"It's been amazing," said Nils Lawrence, director of public relations for the Blue Heat. "They are very excited about it and they want to do everything they can to make it work."

The Blue Heat, which will be coached by Eduardo Zatarain, will play its first home game on June 17th against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

SCFC's season opener is scheduled for June 5 in Santa Monica against the Pali Blues, the reigning W-League champions.

Tryouts will be held in either February or March, Marroquin said.

"We could tell from their business plan that they already had the infrastructure in place from a quality standpoint to own and operate the team successfully," said Melanie Fitzgerald, director of operations for the W-League.

According to Fitzgerald, the USL's W-League is the longest-running women's soccer league of its kind and has featured current U.S. National team pool players such as Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O'Reilly, Tobin Heath and Amy LePeilbet.

SCFC will play in the Western Conference with six other teams, and will take over for the Ventura County Fusion after securing the organization's W-League team's rights.

"Ventura did an outstanding job of establishing a first-class W-League program in Ventura, and while their focus will continue with the PDL, we are confident that Santa Clarita will continue to foster the women's game at an elite level in their market," Fitzgerald said.

The Fusion's PDL team is no stranger to the Santa Clarita Valley having played Chivas USA of the MLS on March 1 in an exhibition game at COC to raise money for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation.

The USL consists of six leagues, including men's First and Second Divisions, a Premier Development League, the W-League, a Super 20 and Super Y-League.

Ultimately, the organization would like to expand into these other leagues.

"My goal is to bring to the families in town professional soccer, elite soccer," said Marroquin, who also owns and operates Planet Soccer in Newhall. "Then get the girls and boys somewhere to play. This is a huge option for the community. It will bring to the people quality soccer and quality entertainment."


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