Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Monday, July 28, 2008)- In their first match since winning the regular season title, the Pali Blues Soccer Club returns to action this Thursday when they meet the Washington Freedom in the W-League Semifinals. Kickoff for this contest is 8:00 p.m. (EST) in Virginia Beach with a berth to the 2008 championship game at stake.
"The Freedom are a well coached team with fantastic players,” Blues head coach Charlie Naimo anxiously stated. “They play the game right, which makes for a great challenge defensively. There will be some minor tweaking in our group in an effort to match their strengths. Player for player it will be a very even match and as close to true professional women’s soccer as you will see in ‘08. We are all excited for it."
After being crowned W-League regular season champions, the Blues received a bid straight to the semifinal round of the postseason. The gap in between games will be 13 days, and the expansion side has taken full advantage of that time off.
“Our take on training early in the week was geared toward fine tuning a couple of things tactically,” Naimo continued. “Later in the week, it was all about having fun and getting players rested and healthy. The players are as happy and healthy as they been all year and are respectfully excited for the challenge."
The Blues head into this weekend hoping to accomplish what the Freedom did in their first official season last year, and that is win a W-League title in their inaugural campaign. Washington won the Northeast Division this season, finishing the year with an 11-1-2 record. They have had a tough road to the semis, taking extra time to defeat both the Charlotte Lady Eagles by a count of 6-5 and the Atlanta Silverbacks, 2-1, this past weekend in Atlanta.
Naimo, who has now won the league regular season title three times (2004, 2006, 2008) and a league championship (2005), commented on the upcoming tests that the Blues will face both on and off the field.
"Many of our players have been in big games before- NCAA Final Fours, W-League Finals, national team qualifying, etc,” he said. “These experiences will help us focus and deter any potential distractions. All that being said, this is our last weekend of a long season together, and we ALL just want to have fun with it."
On the other side of the W-League championship bracket, the Seattle Sounders will be facing the FC Indiana Lionesses in the Thursday night opener. On Saturday night, the W-League Finals will kick off at 7:30 PM (EST).
Stay tuned to the team website at www.bluessoccerclub.com for all playoff updates and other news regarding the Blues.