It was the last game of the 2011 regular season – the Santa Clarita Blue Heat versus the Pali Blues. A tie or win would clinch the Western Conference title for the Blue Heat; Pali needed a win to take the championship and a playoff spot. It was a nail-biter for the Blue Heat, but when the dust settled the game ended in a scoreless tie, eliminating the Blues from the postseason and launching Santa Clarita to its first conference championship and playoff berth.
Fast forward to this Sunday, May 20, at 5 p.m. for a bit of déjà vu, with Santa Clarita opening its 2012 season against the same Pali Blues. The Blues have one win in the books so far, possess a formidable history in the Western Conference and promise to be a challenging opponent for the 2012 Blue Heat.
The 2012 season is the third for the first W-League (pro-am) women’s soccer franchise in the Santa Clarita Valley. Proudly representing the region since 2008, the Blue Heat were recognized for their 2011 success in the league, receiving the 2011 W-League Progress Award, Communications Award and Key Grip Award (Director of Operations).
Most importantly, 2011 W-League Goalkeeper of the Year, Cynthia Jacobo and MVP finalist/Portuguese National Team Captain Edite Fernandes return to the Blue Heat this year, motivated to play against some of the world’s top stars, who will play in the Western Conference in 2012.
Building on last year’s success, new national and international talent round out the roster, including U.S. youth internationals Nadia Link, Rachel Nuzzolese and Taylor Ramirez, Canadian youth international Taryne Boudreau, Mexican Women’s National Team standouts Dinora Garza and Marlene Sandoval and Portugal Women’s National Team players Laura Luis and Ana Borges. Other notable players on the 2012 Blue Heat roster hail from Brazil, Panama, the South, the Midwest and Southern California.
In addition to Fernandes and Jacobo, Shasta Fisher (University of Virginia); Holly Hein (University of Michigan); Kayla Kret (CSU Fresno); and CSU Northridge players/alumni Katie Russ, Haley Hawes, Sydney Vermillion and Rachel Gillis have returned to the 2012 Blue Heat.
Charles Martinez was named the new Blue Heat head coach for the 2012 season, previously working as the Santa Clarita assistant coach during the 2011 Western Conference-winning season.
“I am privileged to be working with such a high level of experience and talent again this season,” Martinez said. “The competition will be fierce, given that the Western Conference has been significantly enhanced by the addition of players from the WPS and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Blue Heat play seven home games in Santa Clarita at Dr. Paul Priesz Stadium at Valencia High School, the first on Sunday at 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10 per person; $5 for youth under 12. Santa Clarita has once again partnered with the SCV Food Pantry to collect food donations from the community as well as participating at other food donation events throughout the Santa Clarita Valley during its upcoming season.
To purchase tickets, seasons passes or for additional information, visit www.SCBlueHeat.com.