Charlie Naimo’s Pali Blues came into Sunday’s USL W-League Final with a mission: stop Canada, period. Last year, the Ottawa Fury denied Pali in penalties. This year, the Blues took on one of Ottawa’s sister Canadian clubs: the Laval Comets.
And it came at Laval’s own expense. Cindy Walsh, who also doubles as a manageer for the Comets, scored an own goal in the 87th minute to give the Blues a 1-0 victory at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I feel like everything kind of led to this day,” Pali Head Coach Charlie Naimo told reporters following the match. “There’s been a lot of adversity, and I just didn’t think they had losing in their mind this year. A lot of times you have talent on your team but you’re just not sure if they’re ready to get it done, but a lot of these kids have stayed to the end and made sacrifices.
“They really wanted to win this and it made me confident.”
In the 87th minute, Katie Stengel sent in a volley that could have been awarded a penalty by the match referee if advantage had not been played. Walsh tried to clear but did not get a good foot into it, and it sailed past W-League Goalkeeper of the Year Genevieve Richard.
“I think that was going to be a penalty if [the referee] didn’t give the advantage, so either way we would have had maybe one more chance to score,” Naimo told reporters. “I think today we were rewarded for an overall performance. I think we gave them one chance the entire game.
“I’m always going to think about ‘why can’t we get that one second back’ and ‘why can’t this be our fourth championship,’ but a championship always feels great and tomorrow I’m going to wake up and think about how we can do it again.”
In addition to the heroics of Pali goalkeeper Anna Piccarelli, the backline of Sasha Andrews, Kassey Kallman, Satara Murray and Caprice Dydasco proved why they are the most consistent in the W-League with a flawless performance. With the victory, Pali conclude their season with an overall record of 11-2-2.
Be sure to follow complete coverage of the 2014 Pali Blues season next summer of the View from Avalon, part of the FanSided Network!
PALI: Own Goal 87
LAVAL: Charron-Delage 77