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North Coast FC, San Jose City FC Capture LIGA NorCal Titles

DAVIS — Battling the heat and a lack of subs, North Coast FC captured the first-ever LIGA NorCal women’s Open Championship, beating Sacramento United 3-1 Sunday at Davis Legacy Soccer Complex.

The win capped an undefeated season for North Coast, who went 7-0-0 in the regular season with 22 goals scored and just three allowed.

“Consistency, we had good numbers at trainings pretty consistently,” North Coast FC head coach Vinnie Cortezzo said when asked what the key to his side’s success was. “We also have a core of players who played club together for many years. They come together pretty quickly because they know each other and they know the way we play and the system. We don’t have to spend a huge amount of time getting to know each other.”

Despite eventually losing, it was Sacramento United which came out on the front foot of the game, nearly scoring in the 20th minute through Micaela Brewer, but the winger could only put her shot over the goal from close range.

Two minutes later, North Coast goalkeeper Ashley Luis did well to keep the scoreline level, saving a shot from close range that was deflected back to her by one of her own players.

In the 23rd minute, Luis was again tested, this time pushing a shot from 25 yards onto her own crossbar.

As Sacramento sent waves of attackers forward, though, it was North Coast which opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Alyssa Fowler capitalized on a defensive miscommunication to round the United goalkeeper and tap the ball into the empty net.

United equalized six minutes later through Brewer, whose timely awareness found her wide open to tap in from six yards after a Sacramento shot hammered off the post.

But from here, it was all North Coast and all Kareli Rodriguez.

The dangerous forward scored twice on breakaways — in the 50th and 68th minutes — to put the game away and bring home the silverware for North Coast.

After the match, NorCal Premier Soccer Director of Adult Soccer Cris Gilmore was on hand to present the trophy and congratulate the players, while reminding those in attendance of the importance of continuing to play at the adult level.

“LIGA NorCal serves three different generations of players,” Gilmore said. “There’s the high schoolers looking to play at a higher level, the college players looking to stay sharp in their offseason, and the college graduates, who still need a place to play.”

“It’s imperative that each club fields a first team to help fit the needs of those three generations.”

After the match, Cortezzo agreed with Gilmore’s assessment.

“Of the twelve players we had today, three are done playing college soccer and are still playing the game,” he said. “For them to still be playing at that time in their lives is awesome. There are another two or three who are not playing soccer in college, but when they come home for the summer, they want to play and so they have a place to play.

“For the ones who are playing college soccer, staying sharp and fit and ready for their college seasons is important,” he added. “We had a couple of youth players as well who are marching to that time in their lives. It’s a good experience to play with and against these girls — both at training and in games.”

Note: San Jose City FC captured the men’s Open Championship after completing their own undefeated season. Click here to sign your team up for the LIGA NorCal Fall Regional League.