By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The LAFC SCV Gold-Mitrovitch G2004 team’s amazing club careers came to an end at the National Premier League Finals in Commerce City, Colorado, last weekend.
The club entered the B Bracket along with the St. Louis 2004G Rangers, FC Dallas 2003 and Eastern Washington Surf SC 03/04/05.
LAFC started hot, beating Dallas 5-1 in their opener July 7, but head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch said despite the score it was a tough game.
The high altitude played a factor in this game, as Mitrovitch expected. Midway through the first half, players from both sides hit the wall and were exhausted early.
LAFC was clinging to a 2-1 lead, ready to go into the halftime break, before Dallas was awarded a penalty kick. Goalkeeper Grace Cashman came up big with the save to keep Dallas at an arm’s length.
Both teams endured with the lack of oxygen and LAFC took control in the second half, eventually winning by four goals.
“We really asserted ourselves as the more dominant team and took over in the second half,” said Mitrovitch.
CSUN-bound Alyssa Edwards led the team with two goals while Sofia Soler, Cassidy Imperial-Pham and Alexis N’Guyen all netted one score.
The team went on to beat Eastern Washington 3-0 in their second game. The Washington club was hit with a 10-1 beatdown from St. Louis in their first game, leading to a defense-heavy game plan.
LAFC fought to get the ball in the net and often were against up to nine defenders in the Washington box.
Eventually goals from Edwards, Maggie Yoshioka and Ryan Sheperd led the team to a win and a Cashman shutout.
St. Louis gifted another beatdown to Eastern Washington, which led to a matchup of two unbeaten teams to decide who emerged from the bracket. The St. Louis club had a fantastic start with a combined 17 goals scored to two conceded.
LAFC entered confidently and battled for 90 minutes. The local club was heartbroken after a questionable offside call took a goal off the board. According to Mitrovitch, Edwards managed to steal a ball just off the endline next to the goal and passed to Vivianna Solaire, who scored, but the referees waved off the play.
The two went into the halftime break still even at zero.
LAFC came out of the break well, again creating chances but not scoring. Mitrovitch thought his team looked to be the much stronger team in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The squad had a golden chance to change the tides after being awarded a penalty kick. However, St. Louis’ keeper made a great save to keep the teams even.
“We were probably the better team,” said Mitrovitch. “Throughout the game we created more chances but we didn’t score like they did.”
Later in the game, LAFC had a defensive breakdown after a long ball got past a handful of defenders and St. Louis broke through for a goal. St. Louis scored shortly after on a corner attack to make it 2-0, but LAFC never gave up.
The team kept creating chances but the St. Louis keeper made two more great saves in the final 10 minutes of the game.
“It was a tricky game,” said Mitrovitch. “They were definitely the better of the teams we’ve played. They’re a stronger team with a lot of speed.”
The team had multiple chances to steal the game and head to the finals, and their head coach is proud of his team and how they represented the Santa Clarita Valley.
LAFC held the St. Louis side, averaging 8.5 goals, to just two scores. St. Louis would go on to lose in the NPL Finals to Los Angeles SC 03, 4-2, a team LAFC SCV recently faced in the State Cup.
LASC managed to win the State Cup title in penalty kicks in a tightly contested match and LAFC nearly got a rematch in Colorado.
The players cap off their club careers with a championship through an undefeated season in league play, their second consecutive Surf Cup title and a fantastic run at the NPL Finals.
Mitrovitch thought his defense was excellent all year long and was proud of the backline of Danielle Thompson, Emily Di Silverio, Emily Gulluzza, Lauren Benz and Emma Amaya.
The head coach also noted how dominant his midfielding corps was, consisting of Summer Hahn, Natalie Ramirez, Alexa Garcia and Yoshioka.
“I’ve seen a lot of good club teams of girls in the SCV,” said Mitrovitch. “It’s been the best team I’ve seen in the valley. Our club has been around for about 10 years. This was the most dominant year we’ve ever had. It’s a good field of bright young ladies. They have a great future ahead of them.”