SoCal Union fell short to Internacional Club Atletico 3-2 on Friday despite being the better team in the WPSL SoCal coastal division.
For match week 7 in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, both SoCal Union and Internacional Club Atletico find themselves in similar circumstances. For the hosts, SoCal Union, they were in 3rd place of the SoCal-coastal division and with a 3 game form of W-L-W coming into the match. This was following a 4-2 victory against Invictus Athletic Club Feminae back on June 20th. For the visitors, ICA was in 4th place in the standings with a form of L-W-W. In their last 3 games, they allowed 10 goals and scored 10 with their previous win against Invictus with a scoreline of 5-2. Meanwhile, the IE team also breaks even on their goal difference by allowing 5 goals and scoring 5.
On a breezy but hot Friday evening at Murrieta Valley high school, a crowd of around 60 spectators came to watch both Union and ICA take the field. ICA takes the lead early within the first two minutes with a lob pass to the wing, and Bianca Frontino receives the pass from 30 yards out and drives it home, shooting to the left of the goalkeeper. ICA looked more organized in their passing, timing the lob passes so their wingers can beat the defenders on the run. They also won plenty of standing tackles to turn over possession. On the flip side, SoCal Union played the ping ball strategy of sending lob passes diagonally to their forwards, making the runs. Then in the 13′ SoCal Union get a goal after losing a poached ball by an ICA defender, but Marie Marlow gets the loose ball just outside the box and shoots it into the left side of the net. Now SoCal Union controls the game, winning the ball in the midfield, and forces ICA to turn over possession.
This was notable after Union made a mass substitution around the 15th-minute mark. In terms of strategy, ICA had a weak spot on the left wing where their left-back had to cover two Union players by herself on some occasions, and the home team exploited that for most of the half. Another notable style displayed by the home team was they hardly passed the ball back to their defenders; if they stole possession from ICA, the midfielder would push forward and make a play. The visitors in the same situation passed the ball back to their defenders to regroup before they make an attack. Throughout the half, Union did a great job shutting down ICA attacks with standing and sliding tackles to prevent the other team from getting past their final third and keeping the goalkeeper worry-free. The half would end 1-1.
In the second half, ICA started out trying to make plays but couldn’t complete their passes. This might be because SoCal made many substitutes compared to Internacional and the energy levels between both sides were noticeable. Despite this, the second half was back and forth for both teams, but SoCal Union had more possession and chances at goal. They made lots of triangle pass plays on the right-wing, continuing that trend from the last half. However, the ICA struggle would end as they got a penalty in the 69th minute. Natalie “Nano” Oronoz shoots to the right, and it goes in. Then 4 minutes later, they double their lead with a goal from 15 yards outside the box from a short free-kick pass. Sophia Tostado looked to cross the ball in the box from the left side, but it goes over the goalkeeper and back of the net.
Now SoCal is pushing everyone up, keeping the ball in ICA’s half. Then in the 84th minute, SoCal gets one back with an 18-yard rainbow shot outside of the box by Jasmine Cusuarez that goes over the keeper, who got a hand on it, but it wasn’t enough to stop it. The home fans rejoiced and anticipated the girls in orange to tie the game after that spectacular goal. The home team pushed and tried their best with close opportunities and set pieces in the dying minutes of the match but couldn’t salvage the tie. They fall 3-2 after the final whistle.
This would be SoCal Union’s second loss of the season so far. With two games remaining in the regular season, their record is now 3-1-2 with 10 pts and a goal difference of +4. The next two home games for Union will be against Legends FC and Elite Development Academy. For the visitors, it would be their fourth win of the season, improving their record to 4-1-3 with 13 pts and a goal difference of -3. Their next matches will be against FC Golden State and Elite Development Academy.