The Sounders Women completed an undefeated season on Sunday, July 22, hoisting the Jerry Zanelli Cup and claiming the 2018 Women’s Premier Soccer League national championship. Head Coach Scott Ford and his crew of stubborn defenders and crafty possession players took down Pensacola FC in the championship game after defeating Fire and Ice, the defending national champions, in the semifinals in Norman, Oklahoma.
On an incredibly hot Saturday morning with reaching temperatures in the 100s, the Sounders Women lined up against Fire and Ice, the defending WPSL national champions, for a semifinal showdown. The Sounders Women started on the front foot with Pascale Dumensil and Mireya Grey hassling defenders over and over. Jessica Udovich helped lead a backline that stayed consistent and tough throughout the day. The teams headed into halftime knotted at 0-0.
As the teams came out in the heat, the Sounders Women got on the front foot early and Grey hammered home a goal on a deft touch from India Jencks after Dumensil dribbled through the masses. The goal would stand as the lone goal on the day with a semifinal victory for the Sounders Women and a date on Sunday in the national final. Pensacola FC won the other semifinal the previous evening so the stage was set.
With a start time of 12 p.m. on Sunday, July 22, the WPSL national championship game was played in incredibly hot weather. The Sounders Women started where they left off with Grey running behind the outside backs and creating havoc and Dumensil doing the same on the opposite side. Jenna Holtz found the back of the net on a feed from Grey early, but Pensacola FC answered almost immediately on a corner kick in the ninth minute. Jaelyn Cunningham was forced to make saves and came up big over and over. The game headed into the water break at 1-1.
Olivia Van der Jagt and Celia Delgato ran the midfield after this point and possession was key in the hot sun. With Udovich, arguably the MVP of the final, handling Uchenna Kanu, the top scorer in the WPSL from Pensacola, the Sounders Women locked down the opportunities to goal.
In the 55th minute, Georgia Cloepfil dished a delicious ball into Delgato who headed home what would be the game winner. The Sounders Women now needed to hold on for the final 35 minutes. Cunningham was forced to make more saves and young Kirsten Pavlisko ran at the Pensacola defense to keep the pressure off. Aleea Gwerder and Stephanie Spiekerman, along with Udovich thwarted attack after attack. In the waning minutes of extra time, Dumensil jumped a pass and dribbled in to hammer home the icing on the game. The final score was 3-1 with the Sounders Women winning the 2018 WPSL National Championship.
Almost as soon as the champion Sounders Women finished the celebratory trophy presentation, they were off to the various universities they call home. It was some tough travel, but well worth the work to earn a championship.
Stay tuned for events related to the Sounders Women coming soon and a more in-depth look at the season that would produce a WPSL Division Championship, Western Conference Championship, and the National Championship.
Information for the Sounders Women can be found at www.sounderswomen.com. See you next year as we work to help players chase the game!!