Los Angeles Soccer: Edite Fernandes

LOCALS: Rangers win NPSL showdown

June, 26, 2012

The Fullerton Rangers took a huge stride toward the National Premier Soccer League playoffs with Sunday's victory over FC Santa Clarita, a showdown for second place in the Western Division's Southern Conference.

Former Chivas USA/New York Red Bulls forward David Arvizu (Santa Ana/Foothill HS) scored two goals as the Rangers avenged a loss two months earlier in Santa Clarita with a 3-0 triumph at Santa Ana Stadium.

The Rangers (7-3-2) have a two-point advantage over the Storm (6-3-3) with two games to play. Both have matches remaining with the San Diego Flash (9-0-2), which has clinched the Southern Conference title.

The Rangers' NPSL team finished second to the Flash and went to the playoffs last year, when they were affiliated with the Santa Ana Winds.

Arvizu scored in the 17th and 60th minutes and Cuban forward Eder Roldan tallied in the 24th for Fullerton, which has won three in a row and scored at least three times in its past four games. Santa Clarita has won just twice in its past five games, over the division's two worst clubs (Phoenix and North Coast, with a combined 2-18-1 record), and could rue a 1-1 draw at home June 9 with San Diego Boca (4-5-3).

Santa Clarita is likely to vault back to second next weekend, when it faces fading Conejo Valley side FC Hasental (3-7-2), but getting a resullt against the Flash on July 7 is critical to the Storm' playoff hopes. Fullerton plays the Flash in San Diego this weekend, then closes July 8 at home against Boca.

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

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LOCALS: Blue Star overtakes Fresno

May, 29, 2012

Orange County Blue Star sits atop the Southwest Division standings in the Premier Development League following last week's 3-2 win at archrival Southern California Seahorses, and another victory in Tuesday night's rematch would put a little space between them and Fresno Fuego.

The sides are even on points and have virtually identical goal totals -- Blue Star's 12 for-7 against just above Fresno's 12-8 -- but Blue Star (3-0-3) have a game in hand and are on a three-game winning streak, scoring three times in each victory. Kyle O'Brien (Garden Grove/Marina HS and Vanguard University), Floridian Nico Olsak and U.S. youth national-teamer Miles Byass (Highland/Redlands HS), a junior at San Diego State, scored the goals against the Seahorses.

Fresno (3-1-3) has won just one of its last six games, and that against the U.S. Club Soccer's rep in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Fuego were on the road last week, getting bombed in the Open Cup's second round by second-division Fort Lauderdale Strikers, then managing only draws against the PDL's Utah clubs, who have never been in contention for playoff berths.

Elsewhere in minor-league soccer:

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LOCALS: Blue Heat's Fernandes is MVP finalist

July, 27, 2011
Edite Fernandes made a profound impact this season for Santa Clarita Blue Heat, scoring nine goals, assisting four more and through her immense quality leading the second-year club to the W-League's Western Conference regular-season title.

The Portuguese forward was rewarded for her play Wednesday with the announcement that she's one of three finalists for the national amateur/semipro women's league's MVP honor, along with Colorado Rush forward Lindsey Horan, a U.S. youth national-teamer, and Ottawa Fury forward Mallory Outerbridge.

Fernandes was joined on the All-W-League team by teammate Cynthia Jacobo (Arleta/Granada Hills HS), Cal State Northridge's goalkeeper, and Pali Blues defender Sasha Andrews, a former Canadian national-teamer.

Jacobo is a finalist for Rookie of the Year, along with UCLA star Sydney Leroux, who leads Vancouver into this weekend's W-League final four in suburban Seattle, and Horan. Andrews is up for Defender of the Year, and Santa Clarita's Fabian Sandoval is one of three Coach of the Year finalists.

Fernandes, Jacobo and Blue Heat defender Kendall VanDine (Brea/Brea Olinda HS), and Andrews and fellow Pali defender Christie Shaner were chosen for the All-Western Conference team. So was Leroux.

Also on the all-league team are Horan, Outerbridge, Long Island defender Sue Weber, Ottawa defender Amanda Fancher and midfielder Jessica Shufelt, Toronto defender Christine Exeter, Vancouver midfielder Tiffany Weimer, and Atlanta midfielder Megan Tomlinson.

More on local clubs and players:

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LOCALS: Blue Heat ousted in thriller

July, 24, 2011

SANTA CLARITA -- Fabian Sandoval has not the least doubt had his team not been hit hard by injuries down the stretch, it would be en route to Seattle for next weekend's W-League final four. And probably win the championship.

Instead, an immensely rewarding -- and seemingly surprising -- campaign in the United Soccer Leagues' women's competition ended in pain for Santa Clarita Blue Heat, which didn't quite have the manpower to overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps in Sunday night's Western Conference final at College of the Canyons.

Blue Heat (8-2-5) rallied from a two-goal deficit and enjoyed a man advantage for the final 10 minutes, but the Whitecaps (9-2-4) advanced to their second successive W-League final four in a 4-3 thriller.

Kailyn Kyle scored the winner, finishing from a goalmouth scramble in the 88th minute, her second goal of the game. UCLA star Sydney Leroux and former L.A. Sol defender Martina Franko also tallied for the Whitecaps, who will join host Seattle Sounders (5-5-4), Atlanta Silverbacks (11-1-0) and Ottawa Fury (14-0-0) next week in Tukwila, Wash.

“Expectations coming in for our coaching staff was to get to this point ...,” said Sandoval, who also is director of coaching for Santa Clarita United and a volunteer assistant with Cal State L.A.'s women's team. “I couldn't ask any more from our players with all the injuries this season. No doubt in my mind that if we had the same group that we started with, we'd be in Seattle. No doubt.

“[Vancouver is] a great team, but full squad with us, we're better than them any day of the week.”

Santa Clarita, a second-year club that won the conference regular-season title by a point over the 'Caps, was missing seven players, five of them starters, including likely conference MVP Edite Fernandes, a Portuguese national-teamer sidelined with a hamstring injury.

“She's the heart and soul. These girls know it,” Sandoval said. “I think she's the MVP of the W-League. We're lucky enough to have been able to see her play. She's that great of a player.”

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LOCALS: Hollywood United clinches

June, 14, 2011

Hollywood United's move to the National Premier Soccer League has been successful if perhaps a mite or two too easy.

The Hitmen (10-0-1), bolstered by new signing Carlos Carrillo (from Salvadoran power Isidro Metapan) and the return of Nick Blanco (from ousted USL Pro side Puerto Rico United), clinched the Northwest Division title last weekend with a 4-1 drilling of the Sonoma County Sol. Blanco scored, and Jose Miranda netted his league-best 10th goal of the campaign.

That gives HUFC a 13-point lead on reigning league champ Sacramento Gold (5-3-3) with three regular-season games to go. The competition was surely better in the USL Premier Development League; the Hitmen are averaging four goals per game in the lower-cost NPSL and have won four games by at least four goals and two more by three.

The Southwest Division race tightened with one very unexpected result: San Diego Boca 3, San Diego Flash 2.

The Flash (7-3-0) came in perfect on the field (they forfeited two victories, one over Hollywood United, for using an ineligible player), and they rallied from a two-goal deficit on Larry Emeanua's eighth and ninth goals, the equalizer on a bicycle kick three minutes into stoppage. Boca (5-5-1) prevailed on Juan Perez's strike with virtually the final touch of the game.

That leaves the Flash and the Santa Ana Winds (7-3-0) even on points with four games to play and set to meet Sunday in San Diego. The Winds were clobbered, 4-0, in the first meeting June 4, and they dropped another last weekend against Sacramento.

More on local clubs and players:

PDL: Big weeks for UCLA's Chandler Hoffman and Fernando Monge with Orange County Blue Star and La Caņada Flintridge's Ryan Shaw with Southern California Seahorses.

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LOCALS: Blue Heat burns up W-League

June, 7, 2011

There's a new boss in the W-League's Western Conference, and it's not any of the expected contenders.

Second-year Santa Clarita Blue Heat leapt atop the standings with two impressive wins last week, surging ahead with a 5-2 romp over a stacked Vancouver Whitecaps team.

Portuguese star Edite Fernandes' quality has helped transform Blue Heat (4-0-1), an also-ran in year one, into an attacking giant, with 15 goals in the past three games. The Whitecaps (4-1-1), who arrived for a three-game L.A. trip looking a good bet to repeat as conference champ, had conceded just three goals in their first five games.

Englishwoman Stacey Rodwell, who played at Cal State L.A., had three assists Sunday against Vancouver -- two on Fernandes goals -- after setting up Fernandes in a 3-0 win Friday over the Seattle Sounders.

Colorado Rush (4-1-0) is one point behind Blue Heat and Vancouver.

Two-time W-League champ Pali Blues (3-0-2), which drew with Vancouver and beat Seattle, is the only other unbeaten side in the West. They played a scoreless draw with Santa Clarita on May 26 and meet again in a regular-season finale July 17 at Canyon High School in Canyon Country.

More on local clubs and players:

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LOCALS: Seahorses, Blue Heat step up

June, 3, 2011
Two local clubs -- the Southern California Seahorses and Santa Clarita Blue Heat -- are enjoying unexpected early success in United Soccer Leagues competitions and will have a better idea of how good they really are following showdowns this weekend.

The Seahorses (3-2-0) are coming off back-to-back Premier Development League wins over longtime power Orange County Blues Star, winning 2-0 last week in Irvine and 2-1 on Wednesday night in La Mirada. Ryan Shaw (La Caņada Flintridge/St. Francis HS) scored three goals -- giving him five in five games -- in the victories.

Now the club, part of a Christian organization that includes the USL Pro league's Charlotte Eagles, looks to bounce back from the 4-0 home loss last weekend to Southwest Division leader Ventura County Fusion (5-0-2). They meet Sunday evening at Ventura College.

The Blue Heat (2-0-1) last week played two-time W-League champ Pali Blues to a scoreless draw, then destroyed archrival L.A. Strikers, 7-2, after scoring three goals -- by Hannah Beard, Portuguese star Edite Fernandes and Cal State Fullerton's Ann Marie Tangorra (Arcadia/Arcadia HS and Cal State L.A.) -- in the first 25 minutes.

Santa Clarita returns home, The Master's College on this occasion, to take on reigning Western Conference champ Vancouver Whitecaps (3-0-1), who have conceded just one goal this season.

More on local clubs and players:

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LOCALS: Strikers have built-in rival

May, 13, 2011

When the opportunity to own a women's soccer team presented itself last year, Joe and Debbie Caracciolo jumped at the it. It cost them a friendship but gave their club an archrival before it had a name, coach, players or a place to play.

The L.A. Strikers will make their debut Saturday in the USL W-League, taking on two-time league champion Pali Blues in the 1 p.m. opener of a tripleheader at Cal State Fullerton, but the dates to circle on the calendar are May 29 and July 13.

That's when the Pasadena-based side takes on the Santa Clarita Blue Heat, a second-year club that counted Debbie Caracciolo as operations manager last year. The parting was not sweet -- Blue Heat owner Carlos Marroquin felt blindsided, Caracciolo felt abandoned -- and the battle will be intense.

"I went from hero to zero [with Marroquin] the minute I chose this franchise," Caracciolo said. "In my eyes, we had this partnership of working together, and I thought we had a great relationship throughout the entire season. At the end of season, when the opportunity presented itself, you'd think he'd be happy for me, that we were able to put this together, about another game to add to the schedule. That wasn't the case. I don't understand why he's upset I'm not working there."

Marroquin says he'd have loved to have been supportive, but he felt betrayed because he said the Caracciolos didn't let him know they were considering taking their own team -- not until they had done so.

'TASTE OF IT': Both head into the season with similar goals: to reach the playoffs, give players an opportunity to grow and showcase their talents, and to connect with their communities -- and especially the youth soccer clubs.

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