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Western Conference Championship – PREVIEW

Post by Jon Billings on July 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm with No Comments »
July 19, 2012 10:41 am
Western Conference Championship – 1pm Sunday@ Cal State Fullerton Stadium

Tukwila, WA –The Pali Blues and the Sounders Women will face off for the Western Conference Championship on Sunday July 22nd to see who will move on to the W-League Final Four.  The match will be take place at Cal State Fullerton Titan Stadium, kicking off at 1:00 pm.

Listen to the match, live, on 1150AM or 1150KKNW.com (coverage starts at 12:45pm)

The Pali Blues are the champions for the Western Conference in the 2012 W-League campaign and the Sounders Women follow right behind in second place. These two teams were able to occupy the top two spots for most of the 2012 season.  Both squads dominated the Western Conference with Pali going undefeated, 13-0-1, and the Sounders with an impressive record of 10-3-1.  On the season, the Sounders scored a total of 31 goals and only had eight goals against.

The Pali Blues are a daunting opponent for the Sounders to overcome. Pali is one of two W-League teams that finished with an undefeated regular season.  With 11 teams competing in the Playoffs, Pali stands in first place with 40 points total while the Sounders have their third most points; 31.

Two of the three Sounders losses this season were to the Pali Blues.  On July 15th, Pali recorded their final 1-0 victory over the Sounders Women to cap off the 2012 season.  The Sounders were coming off two road trip victories on Wednesday and Friday of the same week, while Pali had a week to prepare for their final match against the Sounders.

In the first half, each team generated chances but were unable to break through.  (July 15 match recap – HERE) It was not until the second half that Pali scored their lone goal to give them a win and an undefeated season.  Pali’s substitute, Liz Eddy, drove a low cross towards the front post of the Kufeld’s net. Liz Bogus found a quick touch in between Sounders defenders and goalkeeper to direct the ball into the near corner of the net.

Earlier in the season on June 20th, these two teams were battling for the first place spot in the Western Conference.  At the time, the Sounders record was 5-0-1 and the Pali Blues was 7-0-0.  The Sounders suffered their first lost as Pali snatched a 2-0 victory.

Pali caught the Sounders on their heels in the first 10 minutes with Lynn Williams and Nikki Washington scoring the two goals.  After the shock of the early Pali lead, the Sounders finally found a groove and started to possess and control the ball.  The play was balanced but despite some threatening opportunities, the Sounders were unable to bounce back from the two early mistakes.

Important to Pali’s offense is the goal scoring forward, Lynn Williams, who has tallied a total of 10 goals.  The W-League MVP candidate is a sophomore power house forward from Pepperdine University, whose speed has caused problems for the Sounders.  The Blues are also steadied by former WPS top draft pick, Sarah Huffman, and last season’s WPS Defender of the Year, Whitney Engen.

The top goals-against average for goalkeepers in the W-League belongs to the Blues’ Anna Maria Picarelli (0.216 GA). Picarelli, who also led the league with 13 wins and 10 shutouts this season.

The Sounders are led by Mexican National Teamer, Veronica Perez, who has scored a third of the Sounders goals this season. Accumulating a total of 12 goal in the regular season, Perez will continue to lead by example in the offensive attack.

Another Sounder who has found their goal-scoring touch in the final weeks of the season is Lyndsey Patterson. The veteran scored four goals in a three match stretch before the Pali loss on Sunday. On the regular season, she now has five goals and three assists.

Stephanie Cox and Kate Deines are two defenders the Sounders have counted on as leaders in 2012. Cox’s ability to read the play and cut off attacks has tormented opposition attackers. When starting along side Deines, the two center backs have not given up a goal this season. Deines had to sit out the last two games with a mild concussion but is expected to be fit for the championship match on Sunday.

Behind the back four, the Sounders have played three goalkeepers. While Hope Solo is preparing for the 2012 Olympics in London, the Sounders have been in great hands with Katie Hultin and Megan Kufeld.  Hultin has played in ten games with only five goals scored against her. Kufeld has only given up two goals on the entire season. The first was on a penalty kick against the LA Strikers, and the second was against Pali on July 15th.

After the Central, Eastern, and Western Conference Championship matches, the Ottawa Fury will welcome the three conference champions to the Algonquin College Soccer Complex on July 27-29 for the W-League National Final Four.

Tune in to KKNW 1150AM or 1150KKNW.com for the radio broadcast of the W-League Western Conference Championship in California against the Pali Blues.  Listen on July 22nd from 12:45pm-3pm.  Also, don’t forget to tune in for the Sounders Women Weekly on Friday at 4pm.

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