SCV's Soccer Stars
Ready to Exceed Expectations
May, 2012 - Issue #91
The highest level of soccer in the Santa Clarita Valley begins its third season on May 20 at Valencia High School. And this year, the Santa Clarita Blue Heat has set its sights on its biggest success yet.

"This season I think, based off experience and the caliber of players we have right now, our goals are to go farther," says first-year head coach Charles Martinez. "To go to the finals and play against the other conference."
It has been a steady rise for the Blue Heat in a short span. In 2010, the Blue Heat finished in fourth place in its inaugural year in the Western Conference. That same season, the United Soccer League's W-League expanded to include Santa Clarita to its national amateur/semipro women's league.

It's easy to see why there is a ton of optimism surrounding the team. Last season, a 0-0 tie on July 17 against the Pali Blues gave the Blue Heat a Western Conference championship. In the Blue Heat's first foray into the postseason, they lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

"In its first two seasons, the BLUE HEAT leaned on players who
were also
Santa Clarita Valley-area high school graduates."

"The first season everything was brand new. It was very hard to believe in something like that," said Blue Heat owner Carlos Marroquin. "The last year, the second season was fantastic. We had about 700 people per game. This year, there are a lot of expectations from the people. This will be very, very exciting."

But more than words, there has been action.

Martinez, who takes over for Fabian Sandoval as head coach after being his assistant last season, said Marroquin is an aggressive owner. After last season's success, Marroquin wasn't satisfied, so he took to the phones and took to the road in pursuit of landing more talent.

On February 3, the team announced the signing of three players, including two members of the 2012 Mexican National team - Dinora Garza and Marlene Sandoval. The third player, Rachel Nuzzolese, is a junior forward at Wake Forest University who scored 12 goals last year as a sophomore. A week later, the Blue Heat added three more talented players ‑ Marisha Schumacher-Hodge, Taryne Boudreau and Danielle Bitonti. Then, in mid-March, the Blue Heat added Portuguese stars Ana Borges and Laura Luis.

Yet, maybe even more important than the additions was retaining two players from last year - Portuguese National Team captain Edite Fernandes and goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo.

Fernandes was fourth in the W-League last year in goals, points and assists and was a member of the All-League team.

"Edite is the kind of person who is a great human being and as a player is an exceptional player," Martinez says. "She can do wonderful things on a field when it's least expected. She scores when nobody imagines she's going to score."

Jacobo, a senior goalkeeper at Cal State Northridge, was the W-League's Goalkeeper of the Year in 2011. And she wasn't even supposed to be the Blue Heat's primary goalie.

"If you see her in action, she has an incredible talent," Martinez says. "Last year she came to the team as a backup goalie and right away we realized during practices that we had a gold mine on our hands. Right away she put the regular goalkeeper on the bench. After that, we never put [Jacobo] on the bench. Not [for] even a second."

Adding to the mix is local talent. In its first two seasons, the Blue Heat leaned on players who were also Santa Clarita Valley-area high school graduates. Marroquin said that practice will continue this year.

Marroquin, who owns Planet Soccer, an equipment and apparel soccer store on 24331 Main Street in Newhall, said he is passionate about the game and is willing to do whatever it takes to make his team a championship squad. It won't be easy in the W-League, especially based on what other moves are being made around the league.

No place is that more evident than Seattle, where league rival the Seattle Sounders signed U.S. National Team players Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.

That's why Marroquin is looking for another advantage - fan support.

"If there are no fans, we'd have no team," Marroquin says. "It's the best league in the whole country. It's a tough league. We need support from the fans. I want to give something great to the city."

It appears the Blue Heat is already on its way to doing just that.
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