Charlie Naimo’s Pali Blues continued their march towards the 2013 USL W-League title on Friday against the Washington Spirit Reserves at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Chioma Ubogagu’s solo effort in the 109th minute was the difference as the Pali Blues outlasted the Spirit Reserves 3-2 in extra time. Ubogagu beat a defender to the outside after a feed from Ashley Nick and raced into the penalty area before tucking the ball into the far side of the goal for the winner.
The Blues twice took the lead in regulation, in the 26th minute by Daphne Corboz and later Katie Stengel in the 65th. Washington’s Andi Sullivan evened the score in the 43rd minute after Nick’s opener, beating three Pali players up the center of the field from her center back slot and blasting a volley from 22 yards that eluded Pali goalkeeper Anna Piccarelli.
Late in the contest, the Spirit Reserves forced extra time when Hayley Siegel served up a cross that Monica Mendez was able to knock in just before the end of regulation.
“I’m obviously proud of the effort, the resilience, but it digs down deep into your soul when you have the game won and you give up a late one,” Blues manager Charlie Naimo told reporters. “It was beginning to feel like the Ottawa game last year which scared me, but to their credit they took the punches and they’re proving that they’re peaking at the right time to want to be champions.”
Pali, which lost a heartbreaker in the 2012 final vs. Ottawa, has a chance to get right against Canada when they face the Laval Comets on Sunday, Jul. 28 at 11:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. ET. Laval defeated the Carolina Elite Cobras by the same score and ended the regular season with a 8-1-3 record (27 points).
Keep it right here on the View from Avalon for continuing coverage of the 2013 Pali Blues season.