A few more new faces arrived on the scene for Charlie Naimo’s Pali Blues ahead of their 2013 campaign, as well as some returning faces. On Monday, goalkeeper Anna Picarelli returned to the team, and USC Women of Troy midfielder Ashley Nick was added.
“I think this season is going to be the most exciting season so far,” Picarelli told reporters. “Charlie is putting together a great group of girls both talent wise and personality wise. The talent may be younger on average than last year’s, but I believe the potential we have as a group is off the charts.
“I am more excited for this year for a couple reasons. First off, last year ended bittersweet, losing in the finals in a penalty kick shootout, so the redemption of regaining W-League championship is fueled to the max. Secondly, I am looking forward to being able to share my career experiences with this younger group of players and I hope that I can help them reach their true potential.
“I plan to give it my all to be true captain alongside the other captains and create an environment that encourages the girls and sets a professional standard for the group.”
“It is great to have Anna back,” Naimo added. “She is the voice at the back and a true leader on and off the field. I am confident she will lead this year’s group to similar defensive results as last year.”
Nick led the Women of Troy to a national title in 2007 and is will also be the director of operations for the team.
“I was interested to challenge myself in a new way and help my Trojan Family as the Director of Operations and still be able to challenge myself on field as a footballer,” Nick told reporters. “The Pali Blues have been a strong team with a competitive environment for years so that helped my decision to take the job at USC, knowing I would still be happy on the field. I am looking forward to playing in America again and offering what I have gained as a player playing abroad and continue to learn from Charlie and the talented roster.”
“Ashley gives us versatility and has tremendous presence,” Naimo said of Nick. “Her ability to keep the ball will help us establish the flow we did not have at times last season. She is a great pro as well, and it never hurts to have a natural left-sided player that can dominate in the air.”
On Friday, the Blues added defender Satara Murray from women’s college soccer powerhouse North Carolina and forward Makenzy Doniak from Virginia. Murray comes off an appearance at last year’s Women’s College Cup, while Doniak looks to build on a solid freshman season for the Cavaliers.
“I absolutely can’t wait to live in California over the summer and to play with some of the best collegiate players,” said Murray to reporters. “I’ve tried this before playing for another team (Colorado Pride) and I completely enjoyed it. So I am really looking forward to playing with the Blues.”
“Having a strong team defensively is important to our philosophy,” Naimo said of Murray. “Adding the defensive MVP of the College Cup is a step in repeating our performance from a year ago. Satara well add versatility, personality and athleticism to this year’s team.”
In additon, Doniak is a local product from Chino Hills, Calif. and also played for the USA Under-18 and U-20 Women’s National Teams.
“I am very excited to play with the Blues in the summer,” Doniak said. “I am expecting a very competitive environment that will help me improve as a player. I also look forward to playing with such great athletes fairly close to my home.”
“Signing Makenzy is a big deal for us,” Naimo said of Doniak “She was a top forward in the ACC this past season, and scoring more goals is a priority for us this year. She will impact that goal.”
Pali open up their season on May 18 against the Los Angeles Strikers at the Stadium by the Sea on the campus of Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET.