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Pali tops Seattle, finishes regular season unbeaten

Servet Uzunlar, Pali Blues
Servet Uzunlar, Pali Blues

Photo caption: Pali's Servet Uzunlar (L) breaks past Seattle's Sophie Reiser during Pali's 1-0 win at Palisades High School on Sunday. (Photo Copyright: Debby von Winckelmann)

The Pali Blues won their final regular season game against the Seattle Sounders 1-0 at Palisades High School on Sunday to remain undefeated at 13-0-1.

Midfielder Liz Bogus, returning to the pitch after sitting out five games with a hamstring pull, was on the end of a cross sent into the box by Elizabeth Eddy. Bogus tapped in the goal in the 70th minute.

“I’m happy and it’s great to see Bogey come off her injury and come in and get the goal for us,” said Pali Blues head coach Charlie Naimo.  “All in all, we’re happy and now we’ve just got to prepare for next week.”

The game gave Pali and Seattle (10-3-1) a chance to see what the other team has before they meet again on Sunday for the Western Conference playoff.

Despite being at the end of a three game road trip, Seattle played with a lot of effort and energy, and head coach Michelle French said she was happy with her team’s performance.

“We’ll just take care of ourselves this week and hopefully give another good game on Sunday,” French said. “They (Sounders) did a great job and it makes me excited for what they’ll bring next weekend.”

Pali controlled possession throughout the match and had more scoring opportunities than Seattle, outshooting the Sounders 19 to 8.

Lynn Williams was dangerous, leading the Pali offense with seven shots, two of those coming very close to being goals. In the 18th minute Williams took a hard shot that was saved by the foot of Seattle goalie Megan Kufeld. Williams also had a shot hit the crossbar in the 89th minute.

Pali midfielder Servet Uzunlar took three shots and seemed to be everywhere, working hard and chasing down every ball.

“She (Uzunlar) was our MVP today,” Naimo said.

For Seattle, Kufeld did an impressive job in the goal, making 12 saves in the game.

Seattle defender Stephanie Cox said she was impressed with her team’s defense.

“Just the organization and commitment after playing two games, and three games in five days,” Cox said. “For this game not really meaning a lot, I think we showed a lot of fight and I think it bodes well for us next week.”

Pali’s defense has only given up three goals all season and goalkeeper Anna Picarelli earned her 10th clean sheet, with the help of her stingy defense.

Pali defender Whitney Engen said that much of the game was played in the midfield, resulting in less pressure for the defense.

“As a defender, I didn’t feel we were under that much pressure,” Engen said. “Today I think our shots on goal were far higher than theirs,” Engen said. “I don’t think Anna was really tested that much and we were able to keep a tight back line.

Playoff games usually bring out a little something extra in players and both teams will be bringing their best on Sunday.

“I think next week two completely different teams are going to step on the pitch,” Engen said. “Not to say that everybody didn’t give their all today, but I think that this is regular season and next week is the playoffs and that’s a whole other ball game.  We don’t expect an easy match at all. We know that this is a really strong opponent and they’ve had a really great season and we’re going have to put in a lot of work this week to be ready for them.”

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