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Program Fixer-Upper

Posted: January 22, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2008 2:02 a.m.
 
Program Fixer-Upper
By Amanda Branam
Signal Staff Writer

It wasn't too long ago that the Santa Clarita United Blazers were struggling.
So much in fact, that the Blazers, a Gold team, were relegated down to the Silver division.
That was two years ago.
Now, the girls Under-15 team has earned a title few else can claim: national champions.
Under coach Clint Greenwood, the Blazers won the Super Y League North American championship in November, a tournament of the nation's top teams that took place in Tampa Bay, Fla.
"Once we got back east, they were playing well at the time. They kept riding the wave basically," Greenwood said. "It was good for them. They deserved it. They worked hard with me."
Greenwood, who is also the director of Santa Clarita United, was able to turn the team around in about a year. After being relegated to the Silver division two seasons ago in the Coast Soccer League, the Blazers were elevated back to Gold for this past club season. They lost one game the entire year.
He certainly has the experience to pull off the quick change.
The 39-year-old Newhall resident played soccer professionally in England, Canada, Wales, and the United States. He was named the CYSA-South Coach of the Year in 1998.
Greenwood has coached current men's national team member Landon Donovan and Jill Oakes, a former UCLA All-American who has also seen time with the women's national team.
He took over the Blazers after the team went through a couple of coaching changes in a short amount of time.
"We started off with an OK coach," said Courtney Proctor, who has been with the Blazers for four years. "We got a new one and he wasn't too good. Then we got Clint and it was a total turnaround."
Getting invited to the Super Y tournament and winning it all is indication enough that the Blazers were a good team.
But the way the team won the tournament is even more impressive.
In five games, against some of the top competition in the country, the Blazers out-scored their opponents 15-0. Three of those games, including the semifinal against Miami's Kendall Soccer Club, the Blazers won 4-0.
"I kind of thought they would do pretty well," Greenwood said. "At the time we went there was probably our best time. It's good for the city and the area to have a team like that."
In the finals, the Blazers edged the New Jersey Junior Stallions 1-0, completing goalkeeper Tina Hedwall's run of five straight shutouts in the tournament. Proctor scored the lone goal of the game in the first half. The assist was off a cross by Kristin Bos, who is currently playing for Valencia.
"I got a great ball from Kristin Bos and I was just there to finish it," said Proctor, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"It was a really great experience for us. We all had a great time. We were all really happy that we won the tournament and did really good. We were sad to go home."
The Blazers will be moving up to the Premier division in the coming season, and the Santa Clarita United girls U-17 team will be in top division as well.
"Both teams will be premier 15 and 17, which is very difficult," Greenwood said. I don't think there's another club in this valley that's doing that."
abranam@the-signal.com


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