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Santa Clarita to get WPSL team

Premier Soccer Santa Clarita Valley club open to local women’s players

Posted: February 6, 2009 12:54 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Why does the Santa Clarita Valley need a Women’s Premier Soccer League team?

Just ask team manager Pat Riggins about his chance encounter with former Canyon High and University of Southern California standout Nini Loucks.

“I ran into Nini Loucks at the (Santa Clarita) Soccer Center,” Riggins said. “She said that when my daughter mentioned the team to her she was really surprised in a pleasant way. We have a lot of talent in the Santa Clarita Valley that just doesn’t have any place to play.”

That’s what Riggins is going to help fix.

Premier Soccer Santa Clarita Valley is a new amateur franchise in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which began play in 1998, and now features 54 teams spread across the country. PSSCV will compete in the Southwest Division and won’t have to leave southern California for regular season games.

The team, nicknamed the Rooks, will be coached by Steve Cooper, who also coaches Santa Clarita Christian School boys soccer squad. Cooper also spent three years as an assistant at San Diego Christian College when the program was in its infancy.

Cooper said that PSSCV is looking for a mixture of college players and women in their mid-20s or older who are looking to sharpen their skills before moving on to the Women’s Soccer League, which begins its inaugural season this year.

“We’re looking to put collegians together for the club, or women who come back and want a little more time,” he said. “It really is a stepping stone to that. The women’s professional league just got started again and drafted 16 players from the WPSL.”

The Rooks won’t pay their players, which allows women currently playing in college to participate without having to worry about losing their scholarships.

The WPSL has been approached by the Women’s Soccer League about forming affiliations with WSL teams, similar to the farm systems of Major League Baseball.

Riggins said that PSSCV will not affiliate with any WSL teams, because affiliation would mean players would have to sign contracts to play with the team.

“It’s been left up to the individual clubs whether they want to affiliate with the WSL teams, which we will not do,” he said. “We do not want to put the NCAA and NAIA players in jeopardy.”

Instead, PSSCV is looking for community support to sponsor the new franchise.

“We do it with sponsorships,” Riggins said. “Individual sponsorships, company sponsorships. Wherever we can get money, we get it.”

As far as philosophy on the field, Cooper said that the team will take the best players in the area and make them work together.

“The worst thing in the world is to be the best player on the team,” he said. “We’re going to teach them the overall perspective of the game. It’s kind of like an all-star team in that my job is to get them to play together. When their years are over, I want them to be able to coach at that level and bring the younger players along.”

The team-first mentality is echoed by Riggins.

“A lot of these girls think that after college, they’re all done,” Riggins said. “They think they have to play in a park league or at the Soccer Center. We’re hoping to pull out quite a few girls from the Santa Clarita Valley. From when the team got started, everyone was very positive about this.”

The team will hold tryouts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Santa Clarita Central Park.

Questions should be directed to the team’s e-mail address at psscv2009@gmail.com.

jgulino@the-signal.com

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