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Blue Heat women's soccer readies for title match

Santa Clarita semi-pro team to take on New Jersey squad at The Master's College on Saturday

Posted: July 28, 2016 11:22 p.m.
Updated: July 28, 2016 11:09 p.m.
Captain Yadira Toraya holds up her hand, recognizing the fans during Blue Heat pre-game announcements. Photo courtesy of @TmesisFC. Captain Yadira Toraya holds up her hand, recognizing the fans during Blue Heat pre-game announcements. Photo courtesy of @TmesisFC.
Captain Yadira Toraya holds up her hand, recognizing the fans during Blue Heat pre-game announcements. Photo courtesy of @TmesisFC.
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After a nine-week season, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat semi-pro women’s soccer team will play New Jersey Copa FC in this year’s United Women’s Soccer championship match.

The game is set for Saturday at The Master’s College.

“We definitely know what we’re playing for,” midfielder Kelsey Gudgeon said. “There’s no added pressure, but there’s extra motivation just because it is the final.”

The Blue Heat, who has college as well as Mexican and Canadian national players, topped their division at 4-1-3. Copa FC finished first in the Eastern Division with an 8-1-1 record.

“It’s very competitive,” Blue Heat coach Guilherme Mitrovitch said. “The New Jersey team we’re going to face, they won a little more easily. So I think they’re going to be a challenge for us.”

Offensively, the Blue Heat have four of the top scorers in the West with Kassandra Massey’s five goals and three assists leading the way.

But Copa FC also boast an offense that shreds through back lines. With a league-dominating 31 goals Copa boasts two of the top three players in terms of points.

For the past two years, the Blue Heat has been shaping up their core players, according to Gudgeon.

“We’ve been focusing on our cohesion and our chemistry because we’re all talented. The big thing is using that together,” she said.

Santa Clarita’s defense has been solid all season, aside from the occasional free kick goal.

“Goals weren’t because of defensive breakdowns,” Gudgeon said. “We don’t want to change how we’re playing, but we do want to be tighter in the back.”

Mitrovitch also feels his backfield is up for the challenge, especially with UWS player of the year Chloe Castaneda on the field.

“The thing with Chloe is that she helps a lot on both sides of the field, offensively and defensively,” the third-year coach said. “She covers a lot of ground, she understands the game very well even though she’s very young. She plays so mature.”

Castaneda, a 2015 graduate of Harvard-Westlake High in North Hollywood and current UCLA student-athlete, sees herself as an organizer on the field.

“Because I’m 5 feet, 3 inches, I can see the field easily and work on organizing the field,” she said. “We want to win in the air on throw-ins and corners.”

Although Santa Clarita is hosting the game, the team isn’t relying on home-field advantage, especially considering it only won half its regular season home games.

“We play very well at home, but we’ve dropped some points at home and we got some really good results on the road. I think an advantage will have to do with the traveling,” Mitrovitch said. “I think it is a little bit of an advantage in the sense that you don’t have to travel.”

Throughout all of the team’s preparation, there is one factor that stands above the rest.

“There’s so much belief in our team. I can picture us winning already. We have that belief going into it,” Gudgeon said. “It’s in our hands and our game to win.”

The Blue Heat take on Copa FC Saturday at The Master’s College. Game time is 5 p.m.

 

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