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Santa Clarita Blue Heat win national championship

Semi-pro women's soccer team downs New Jersey squad at The Master's College

Posted: July 30, 2016 9:20 p.m.
Updated: July 30, 2016 9:20 p.m.
The Santa Clarita Blue Heat celebrate their United Women's Soccer national championship at The Master's College on Saturday evening. Photo by @cjmartinmedia The Santa Clarita Blue Heat celebrate their United Women's Soccer national championship at The Master's College on Saturday evening. Photo by @cjmartinmedia
The Santa Clarita Blue Heat celebrate their United Women's Soccer national championship at The Master's College on Saturday evening. Photo by @cjmartinmedia
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The Santa Clarita Blue Heat women’s semi-pro soccer team couldn’t have had its first season in United Women’s Soccer end in a more thrilling way.

Forward Julia Hernandez scored on a bicycle kick with one minute left in a second overtime period to deliver the Blue Heat a 2-1 win over New Jersey Copa F.C., securing a national championship at The Master’s College on Saturday evening.

“We just kept fighting and pushing,” said third-year Blue Heat coach Guilherme Mitrovitch, “and you could see the girls really believed and wanted that more than anything.”

Hernandez, a rising sophomore at UCLA, scored nine minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead. But East Conference-champion New Jersey (8-2-1) scored midway through the second half to send the game to overtime.

Blue Heat goalkeeper Jovani "Jojo" McCaskill, a rising senior at Cal State Northridge, was crucial in getting Santa Clarita (5-1-3) to overtime. But the game’s highlight came with a little over a minute left before it would have gone to penalty kicks.

With her nifty footwork, Hernandez gave the Blue Heat, champions of the West Conference, the national title in front of what Mitrovitch said was the largest crowd he’d seen for a soccer game at TMC.

Mitrovitch played for TMC’s NAIA national runner-up team in 2009.

He said the plan is for Santa Clarita to play in United Women’s Soccer — which just wrapped up its first season of competition — next year.

“I thought it was a good league, very competitive,” Mitrovitch said.

After the game, Mitrovitch credited the dedication of team owner Carlos Marroquin
 and the team’s post-college players who have other jobs.

He also highlighted the women who drove from Oxnard and the greater Los Angeles area for team workouts.

According to the UWS website, “UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars.”

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