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Pali Blues top LA Strikers 2-0 in opener

Sarah Huffman of the Pali Blues (left) tries to make her way by LA Strikers defender Christina Murillo. (Photo: Debby von Winckelmann)

The Pali Blues opened their season with a 2-0 win against the LA Strikers on Sunday at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif.

Liz Bogus scored to give Pali a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute of play and later got the assist on Sarah Huffman’s insurance goal in the 84th minute.

Blues’ head coach Charlie Naimo was happy with the win, but not his team’s performance.

“I thought we were not good enough at all,” Naimo said. “We have a lot of work to do. We were missing things tonight. We were lethargic, we weren’t active.”

Blues’ forward Ann Marie Tangorra agreed that it took the team some time to get going.

“It was rough in the beginning, but over time it just clicked,” Tangorra said. “We got two goals, so it was good.”

Both teams created scoring opportunities from the early minutes of the game, but neither team could find the back of the net. The goal came after the Strikers’ defense hesitated, thinking there had been a hand ball.

“We were just unlucky because a lot of the girls on the team thought that the girl hit the ball with her hand,” said Strikers’ defender Christina Murillo.”So we kind of got caught off guard.”

LA Strikers head coach Demian Brown said his team played 70 minutes of good soccer.

“We gave up a goal that wasn’t necessarily a well-worked goal – it was an opportunistic goal,” Brown said. “It took a little wind out of our sails.”

With the Pali Blues leading 1-0, the Strikers tried to step up their attack and, instead, gave up another goal.

“We changed shape a little bit to be able to put on a little more pressure, and in changing shape in your first game out, things get missed , Brown said.”

Brown and Naimo were both challenged by personnel issues. The Strikers were missing attackers Kristy Krohn, who has not yet been released from her team in Brazil, and Jaime Bell, who was unable to make the game due to Mother’s Day obligations.

“Those two players are very important to this team and would have changed the score line for us today,” Brown said.

For the Pali Blues, several of their collegiate players have not yet arrived. Naimo said that his team played without a true center midfielder.

“We’re only going to get a lot better,” Naimo said. “Next week we will be three players better.”

Next week the Pali Blues take on the Western Conference defending regular season champions, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat, on May 20. The game will be played at Valencia High School with kickoff at 5 p.m. PT. The Strikers have a week off before playing Santa Clarita on May 27 at Occidental College.

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