San Diego SeaLions Arrive in Ohio for the WPSL National Championships
The San Diego SeaLions arrive in Columbus, Ohio, for the WPSL Final Four following a set of wins last weekend in the Western Regional Championships. The SeaLions face off against the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday as the San Diego side aims to continue its undefeated streak in the 2016 season.
WPSL Soccer News: The unbeaten San Diego SeaLions arrived in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday looking for their second WPSL National Championship in four years. The SeaLions (10-0-1), who won this season’s WPSL Western Region title, will play the Atlanta Silverbacks, from the WPSL South (8-0-0), in the semifinal round of the 2016 WPSL Final Four.
“We have worked hard to get this far,” says San Diego head coach Jen Lalor, who was on the field for the SeaLions in their first WPSL Final Four appearance, in Salt Lake City, back in 2006. “And we have reached the point where we expect to be here, every single season. We want to get used to playing for national titles and not accepting less.”
There’s some history to this match.
“The WPSL was started in 1998 by teams from the W-League, and for years we wished there would be some inter-league matches or tournaments,” says Snyder. “We had always felt that the best teams in each league would be competitive with each other.” When the W-League ceased play after the 2015 season, some of its teams joined the WPSL. Including the Atlanta Silverbacks, who won the W-League title in 2011. “Now we will get our wish!” Snyder adds.
The SeaLions have outscored their opponents 30-6 this season, and are led on offense by forward Angelina Hix (Mira Costa College), who’s scored 10 goals so far this season and shows no signs of stopping after hitting the game winner in the 85th minute last Sunday to push the SeaLions into the finals; creative midfielder Rosie Tantillo-Colon (USC/FC Gold Pride) whose three goals and four assists have come recently enough to show a rise in form; midfielder and assist specialist Cassie Callahan (UCSD); and youngster Ashley Johnson (Vista Murrietta HS)’s two goals.
San Diego’s stifling defense has been the real story this season. Anchored by Goalkeeper Kaycee Gunion (CSU-San Marcos), a 2015 WPSL All-Star, and the SeaLion back line of Grace Shevlin (SDSU), Abigail Callahan (DePaul), Victoria Gersh (Villanova), and Karina Cisneros (Chapman), the SeaLions have yielded the fewest goals (6) and most shutouts (7) per season in club history and the league’s sixth-best goals-against average (0.54).
The Silverbacks are a force to be reckoned with. Their leading scorer is Jocelyn Baker (George Gwinnett College) with four goals, but, like San Diego, Atlanta’s goals are spread among several players, with Brooke Hendrix (So. Miss), Tess Patton (Mercer) and Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy each contributing two of the team’s remaining 18 goals.
Atlanta’s defense, staffed by Tracey Webster (College of Charleston), Bria Washington (Georgia), and Brittney Reed (Kennesaw State), has, like San Diego’s, allowed just 6 goals this season.
And one more bit of history. Zaneta Wyne (New Mexico), who played for the SeaLions in 2011, will suit up in midfield — for the Silverbacks — when the match kicks off, at 1:30 pm PST (4:30 pm EST) this Saturday at Otterbein University Memorial Stadium in Westerville, OH.
“If our players do what we know we can do,” notes Lalor, “we can win any game we play. We proved that last weekend and all season long. Just have to keep doing it. Simple.”
In the other semifinal, NWSL affiliate Boston Breakers (11-0-1) from the WPSL East Region will face unbeaten and defending 2015 WPSL champs Chicago Red Stars Reserves (9-1-0), another NWSL affiliate, out of the Midwest Region. The winners battle for the WPSL National Championship on Sunday (July 31) at 11:00 am PST (2:00 pm EST).
Track the SeaLions’ 2016 Final Four run in real-time live on the SCORESTREAM mobile app here.
Source/Photo Credit: San Diego SeaLions. Photo Credit: Aaron Jaffe