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W-League women's soccer: Winning it in a flash

Buffalo franchise scores three unanswered goals in second half to beat Vancouver, win W-League title

Posted: July 31, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Amy Vermeulen, left, and Buffalo Flash defender Jenny Jeffers compete for the ball during the W-League title game Saturday at Harry Welch Stadium.

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The Santa Clarita Blue Heat suited up for their last regular-season game against the Colorado Rush on July 15, but the United Soccer Leagues W-League was far from finished.

The Blue Heat didn’t make the playoffs, but the Santa Clarita Valley had another chance to view some of the league’s best when it hosted the 2010 W-League championship game on Saturday at Harry Welch Stadium.

The title game paired the Buffalo Flash and Vancouver Whitecaps, who both finished the regular season undefeated, winning their respective divisions.

Buffalo came out on top in the end in a 3-1 thriller that was in doubt until the final minutes.

After falling behind on a goal from Vancouver’s Amy Vermeulen in the 57th minute, the Flash answered back with three unanswered goals.

“The character that the girls showed after that (first goal) was just phenomenal,” said Buffalo head coach Aaran Lines. “We haven’t been in that situation all season.”

Buffalo forward Gemma Davison tied the game up at 1-1 in the 61st minute, breaking free after a pass from Kelly Parker found her cutting from the right flank.

Flash forward Veronica Boquete continued the surge, scoring the game-winner in the 65th minute and the third goal to put the game away in the 87th.

“We have a great team here,” Davison said. “When a team goes 1-0 down, you can never say they can’t come back. We have that belief that we can do that. We’ve got players here that can do nearly everything in the game.”

Buffalo is the only entirely professional team in the pro-am league and it is the first title for the Flash in its two-year existence.

“As a second-year franchise, it’s massive for us,” Lines said. “It’s a big deal.”

The four-game set was considered an accomplishment by Blue Heat and W-League officials.

“It’s been a fantastic championship from a competition standpoint, but first and foremost, the city of Santa Clarita has just done a fantastic job of bringing this event here and exposing our players to California,” said Melanie Fitzgerald, the senior director of W-League operations.

Carlos Marroquin, president and owner of the Blue Heat would have liked to see his team in the playoffs, both competitively and to draw a better crowd. But he was still more than satisfied with the turnout and the presence of a national audience on Fox Soccer Channel.

“This is something great,” Marroquin said. “We got the support from the city, 100 percent. It was fantastic. We put Santa Clarita on the map.”

The reported crowd of 362 was the highest of the weekend, but Fitzgerald still acknowledges room for improvement.

“Thursday’s (semifinal games) were tough, because it was a weekday night, but we still did well considering that,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously for a championship game, you hope for a several thousand, but at the same time, this is a first-year franchise and it’s the first time the W-League has been exposed to Santa Clarita. The way they’ve embraced it is encouraging.”

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