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Blue Heat soccer: A lot to be desired

Blue Heat’s playoff run cut short after goal in final minutes ends a second-half rally

Posted: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Blue Heat forward Liz Franco tries to secure the ball in a battle with Vancouver Whitecaps players Kelsey Hood, center, and Kaylyn Kyle during Sunday night’s W-League playoff game at College of the Canyons. Vancouver won 4-3.

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It was a surprising breakout season for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat in just its second year of existence.

As injuries piled up and pressure mounted late in the season though, the Blue Heat couldn’t hang on any longer, falling 4-3 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first round of the United Soccer League W-League playoffs on Sunday at College of the Canyons.

Vancouver’s Kaylyn Kyle scored a goal in the final three minutes of the game to go ahead for good, ending Santa Clarita’s abbreviated first-ever playoff run after it claimed a Western Conference title last week. Vancouver finished just behind in second.

“We were unlucky at the end to let a goal go in on a corner kick to let them win,” said Blue Heat head coach Fabian Sandoval. “I was happy with how we competed out there.”

Though Liz Franco got Santa Clarita (8-2-5) on the board with the game’s first goal, Vancouver was in control most of the way.

The Whitecaps (9-2-4), who had lost twice to Santa Clarita earlier in the season, led 2-1 at halftime and extended the lead to 3-1 two minutes into the second half when Kyle scored her first of two goals on the day.

Less than 10 minutes later, Santa Clarita knotted things up at 3-3 off scores from forward Hannah Beard and midfielder Shasta Fisher. It was the first goal of the season for Fisher, who came off the bench to knock in the equalizer in the 56th minute.

After that, the Blue Heat simply failed to finish opportunities, Sandoval said.

Considering the handful of starters sidelined with injuries, it wasn’t a bad effort for a team that finished 2-6-2 a year ago.
“It’s a growing season,” Sandoval said. “You’re playing two games a week, and when you’re traveling you’re playing three games in a week. It’s tough.”

Vancouver outshot Santa Clarita 29-11 in the game and had eight corner kicks compared to Santa Clarita’s two.

The Blue Heat went 0-2-2 in their final four games.

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