College of the Canyons is set to host the United Women’s Soccer national pro-am league’s national championships this weekend.
The 2023 Western Conference champion Santa Clarita Blue Heat will be the home team, welcoming three other squads looking to take the UWS crown.
The Blue Heat (5-2) will play the Lancaster Inferno (6-1-1), of Pennsylvania on Saturday. The Michigan Jaguars FC (5-1-1) will also take the field on Saturday against Sporting Connecticut (7-1) in the other semifinals match.
The UWS is the most competitive pro-am league in the country, with every team featuring star players ranging from the international scale down to high school phenoms. Santa Clarita Football Club President Carlos Marroquin has been astounded every year with the level of play in the league.
“It’s an amazing level of soccer,” Marroquin said in a phone interview. “Every team is very good. Since the first year, the league has gotten so much more competitive. We have a lot of former pros. It’s an amazing league and that’s why we choose to play in it.”
Sporting CT features one of the league’s top scorers, Tiffany Weimer, who has played professionally all over the world and currently in Denmark.
The Blue Heat have a standout one-two punch at the top of its formation. NCAA stars Olufolasade Adamolekun, of USC, and Elizabeth Worden of Texas lead Santa Clarita with five goals each on the season.
On the backline, Armenia national teamer Sydney Vermillion and Canadian national teamer Zoe Burns lead the Blue Heat defense that has allowed just four goals in seven games. Goalkeeper Jordan Brown, of the University of Georgia, leads the team with 25 saves.
The team features a ton of local talent. Hart’s Alexis Nguyen and Ariana Salvador, Saugus’ Makea Leonard and Sophia Ruys, and COC’s Lauryn Bailey are all rostered for the Blue Heat.
“Every year is a little different,” Marroquin said. “This year we feel compact. Everyone’s on the same page. Everyone wants to be here. It’s a big motivation for the players to play at home. We won in 2021 in Austin, Texas, and no one was able to come out. The players are excited to play in front of their friends and family.”
Santa Clarita is looking for its third UWS title and is currently the only franchise with two, with the most recent championship coming in 2021. The Blue Heat hosted the first-ever national championships in 2016, when the team won the inaugural title at The Master’s University. SCFC has its eyes on doing the same this weekend.
The Blue Heat have battled injuries and players missing time all season but have still reached the pinnacle of the UWS.
Sporting Connecticut takes on the Jaguars on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. just ahead of the Blue Heat and Lancaster taking the field at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s not every day this happens,” Marroquin said. “The last time we hosted was in 2016 and we won as well. I love my town. I’ve lived in Santa Clarita for 25 years and want to deliver them a national championship. I’m hoping the people come out and support us.”