By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Santa Clarita FC (6-2) got a much-needed win at home over division rival Los Angeles SC (2-4) on Saturday at College of the Canyons.
The Blue Heat may have had their offensive game of the year but the team played the same great tight defense.
The United Women’s Soccer league reigning champs wasted no time and got on the board within a minute of play.
The speed of Alyssa Thompson on the right wing was too much for several LASC defenders. Thompson drove around a number of players before hitting an open Angeles Escobar, who knocked in the opening goal.
Thompson is a two-sport standout at Harvard-Westlake where she also runs track. The incoming senior has one more year with the Wolverines before she heads off to Stanford.
“We have a very good squad,” said SCFC captain Lauren Sesselmann. “Everybody brings it every single day. [The younger players’] talent speaks for itself, they’re pretty much unstoppable. I would not want to be playing defense against them.”
Just minutes later the Blue Heat made it 2-0. The home team pressured well and it would be midfielder Sofia Cook who found the back of the net.
LASC was struggling to establish possession. The SCFC midfielders swarmed balls being brought back up the field while any plays getting through didn’t last long. The Blue Heat’s back line led by Sesselmann ended dozens of plays instantly.
LASC would get their only goal after 15 minutes of action. Forward Alexandra Hargrave managed to pick off a ball and got a rocket of a shot off from 50 feet out that just got past Heat keeper Mia Ferkranus.
Ferkranus played well and stopped anything that managed to get past her back line.
Later in the half, defender Giselle Thompson got a great turn and push from the SCFC back line that led to the third goal.
Thompson dished to Escobar, who hit Ally Lemos for the Heat’s third goal before heading into the halftime break.
SCFC started the second half with the same intensity, even with a plethora of substitutes. However, the team’s numerous shots would just miss the goal and the team would have to rely on their defense to hold to the two-goal lead.
“I told the backline, ‘You know how to play this game. Just play calm and play the ball around,’” said Sesselmann. “And that’s exactly what we did and we broke them down.”
LASC managed to gain possession slightly more but still couldn’t get over the hump and score a second goal. The smothering defense led by the former Canadian national team player Sesselmann was too much for the visiting team.
The defending champs will need to win at least one of their last two games to secure a playoff berth. The Heat are still undefeated against anyone but Calgary Foothills.
SCFC head coach Leonardo Neveleff doesn’t want to see his team do anything new or special. The reigning UWS Coach of the Year just wants to see his team do what they know they can do.
“We’re getting stronger and stronger,” said Neveleff. “I won’t change anything with this team, they break barriers.”
LASC will have one more shot at SCFC on Saturday when they host the Blue Heat in their West Division matchup.
SCFC will then look to end the regular season with a bang at home in their matchup with FC Arizona. The Blue Heat return to COC to take on Arizona Saturday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m.