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Santa Clarita Blue Heat win home opener over LA Strikers

Posted: May 31, 2013 9:43 p.m.
Updated: May 31, 2013 9:43 p.m.

Santa Clarita Blue Heat forward Natalia Gomez-Junco, foreground, heads the ball toward against Los Angeles Strikers defender Laura Stockdale at The Master's College on Friday.

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The Santa Clarita Blue Heat, the valley’s semi-professional women’s soccer club, had their fans and coaching staff sweating throughout the full 90 minutes. But in the end, the squad pulled out a 3-2 win in its home opener against the Los Angeles Strikers at the Master’s College.

However, the squad squandered a 3-0 second-half lead, giving up two late goals in the 69th and 83rd minutes.

The Strikers (1-2) then unleashed a flurry of shots over the final 10 minutes of play, yet the Blue Heat defense and goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo held firm and fought off the onslaught.

The first half was close for a full 45 minutes, with neither team able to make a definitive push past the other.

The Blue Heat only managed to put four shots on goal in the first half, with none of the attempts really challenging Strikers goalkeeper Ryann Terrero.

The Strikers, on-the-other-hand, unleashed a total of seven shots and consistently kept goalkeeper Jacobo on her toes.

The Blue Heat veteran, who is one of only four returning players from the 2012 squad, stepped up to make huge saves, including one on a rocket right before the 45-minute mark that sent her sprawling across the face of the goal.

The first breakthrough in the game came during the first minute of stoppage time, as Kasandra Massey slipped a ball past Terrero from the left side of the box.

Forward Ana Borges picked up a loose ball and passed it to midfielder Stacey Rodwell who put a perfectly placed cross right on the feet of Massey.

The goal marked the first for Massey in the United Soccer League and it was made even more sweet as it came against her former club.

“I played with the Strikers last year and I didn’t score a goal,” Massey said. “When it happened I was speechless. Honestly I don’t know what to say. I was speechless.”

The Heat took that 1-0 lead into halftime.

The second half looked like it was going to be the opposite of the first, as the Blue Heat (1-1) came storming out of the gate, knocking the Strikers back onto their heels.

Borges and her fellow forwards continued to give Los Angeles fits, and in the 51st minute Rodwell picked up a pass from Natalia Gomez Junco at the top of the 18-yard box.

Rodwell set her feet and launched a no-doubter over the head of Terrero.

“It was one of those shots where I shot and I started walking away as if I had already scored, but I had to stop and check because it dipped late,” Rodwell said with a laugh.

Liz Franco capped off the Blue Heat’s scoring with a goal in the 56th on another assist from Gomez Junco, but after this point, the game was all Strikers.

Los Angeles spent the final 30 minutes of the contest on the Blue Heat side of the field and had new Blue Heat head coach Anthony Rodwell, pacing the sideline the entire time.

Australian defender Kristy Moore put a couple of shots in the back of the net at the 69- and 83-minute marks.

The Strikers continued to pepper the Blue Heat goal with shots, a total of 13 in the half, but Jacobo and the Blue Heat defense somehow managed to keep the ball out of the goal.

“It was quite nerve-racking,” Rodwell said.

The Blue Heat host the 2012 Western Conference champion Pali Blues on Sunday at 5 p.m. at The Master’s College.



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