LOCALS: Blue Heat wins wild West

A series of ties settled the W-League's Western Conference, with the Santa Clarita Blue Heat holding on to with the title -- and a home game in this weekend's conference championship -- in one of the tightest races in the women's league's 17-year history.

Blue Heat (8-1-5) edged the Vancouver Whitecaps (8-2-4) by one point and two-time W-League champ Pali Blues (7-1-6) by two to move within 90 minutes -- Sunday night against the Whitecaps at College of the Canyons -- of the national semipro/amateur league's final four in Tukwila, Wash.

The Seattle Sounders (8-4-3), who finished fourth in the West, will join the three conference champions as host of the July 29-31 finals at Starfire Sports Complex.

Cal State L.A. All-American Liz Franco's sixth goal of the season boosted the Blue Heat to a 1-1 draw with the L.A. Strikers, and their second scoreless draw of the campaign with Pali Blues was enough to advance the Whitecaps, who are affiliated with the Major League Soccer club and played in last year's W-League title game.

Vancouver's hopes to win the regular-season title ended with a 3-3 tie against Colorado Force, which required a three-goal comeback after Erin Gunther scored a hat trick in the first 21 minutes for the Force. UCLA star Sydney Leroux netted the last two goals, her ninth and 10th, for the 'Caps.

All three contenders failed to assert control when given the opportunity down the stretch. Blue Heat won just once in their last six games and heads into the postseason without a victory in their last three games. Vancouver and Pali won just twice in their final six.

More on local clubs and players:

PDL: Fresno Fuego (11-0-3) took command in the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division with one week to go in the regular season, running its winning streak to five games with triumphs over L.A. Blues 23 and the Southern California Seahorses and moving a point ahead of the Ventura County Fusion (10-0-5). Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Blues gave Fresno the division's other playoff berth; the Fusion, held last week to a 1-1 draw at Orange County Blue Star, clinched nearly a week and a half ago.

Kitsap Pumas (12-0-3), from Bremerton, Wash., has won the Northwest Division, and there's three clubs -- Victoria Highlanders (7-4-3), Abbotsford Mariners (6-6-3) and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency (6-5-3) -- alive for the last berth in the Western Conference final four. The host will be chosen from bids by the four competiting clubs.

Orange County (9-5-2) ended another disappointing campaign, missing the playoffs for the second straight year, but UCLA's Chandler Hoffman is in line to win the scoring title with 13 goals and nine assists (35 points). Fresno's Milton Blanco has 11 goals and 11 assists (33 points) with two games to go.

WPSL: Orange County Waves won the Women's Premier Soccer League's Pacific-South Division with a 3-1 win at defending champ Ajax America thanks to two goals by former Ajax star Shannon Cross (Manhattan Beach/Mira Costa HS and USC). The Waves' sister club, the Bay Area Breeze, pulled out the Pacific-North title and will be host for this weekend's conference finals, in Dublin, east of Oakland.

The Waves (11-1-2) will face North Bay FC Wave (9-1-4), from Marin County, in Saturday's semifinal, with the Breeze (9-2-3) taking on the San Diego SeaLions (11-2-1). Sunday's winner advances to the July 30-31 WPSL final four in Lisle, Ill.

W-LEAGUE: L.A. Strikers went 4-9-1 in their first season in the United Soccer Leagues' women's competition, twice beating last-place Victoria and toppling both of the Colorado clubs. The draw with archrival Blue Heat, with Australian forward Amy Chapman scoring her fourth goal of the season, ended things rather positively. English forward Cherelle Khassal led the Strikers with four goals and three assists.

Victoria Highlanders (1-10-3), also in their first W-League season, closed with a three-game unbeaten streak, wrapping their only win -- over Colorado Force on Nicole Stewart's late strike -- between draws over the playoff-bound Blue Heat and Sounders.

NPSL: Hollywood United looks to become the third straight National Premier Soccer League champion from California, and fifth in six years, at the July 28-30 league final four in Madison, Ala. One slot still needs to be filled -- Brooklyn Italians will meet Erie Admirals on Saturday -- and the draw will be held afterward. One change in the lineup: After it was initially announced that Georgia Revolution would be one of the teams, the league reversed track and declared Jacksonville United as Southeast Division winner.

USL PRO: The L.A. Blues (6-4-5) follow their skid-busting victory Sunday over Dayton with another trip east, to take on Richmond Kickers (10-5-3) and Harrisburg City Islanders (7-5-5) with an opportunity to climb back into second place in the National Division.

National leader Rochester Rhinos (9-6-3) fell for the second time in 13 days to Orlando City (12-3-6), the American Division's top club, but have won five in a row and are unbeaten in seven, those games aside. The Floridians lost, 2-1, to Bolton in a friendly Sunday and will play another English Premier League club, Newcastle United, on Saturday.



Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Charleston Battery 2 (Massie 81, Kelly 90), Wilmington Hammerheads 1 (Guzman 76)


Charlotte Eagles 1 (Williams 68), Harrisburg 1 (N. Becerra 1)

L.A. Blues 1 (Rivera pen. 93+), Dayton Dutch Lions 1 (Davis 7)


FC New York 1 (Holder 19), Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 (Shaffer 29)

Orlando City 2 (Luzunaris 38, Neal 41), Rochester Rhinos 1 (Donatelli 15)

Richmond Kickers 1 (Bangura 3), Antigua Barracuda 0

Wilmington Hammerheads 3 (Cuero 65, Mulholland 77, Jata 86), Harrisburg City Islanders 1 (og Murray 33)


L.A. Blues 4 (Rivera 31, pen. 42, Momeni 50, G. Bravo 73), Dayton Dutch Lions 1 (Kissinger 13)


National: 1. Rochester Rhinos 30 points; 2. Harrisburg City Islanders 26; 3. L.A. Blues 23; 4. Pittsburgh Riverhounds 19; 5. FC New York 18; 6. Dayton Dutch Lions 8

American: 1. Orlando City 42; 2. Richmond Kickers 33; 3. Charleston Battery 31; 4. Wilmington Hammerheads 30; 5. Charlotte Eagles 25; 5. Antigua Barracuda 22

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Dayton Dutch Lions at Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 4 p.m.

FC New York at Harrisburg City Islanders, 4 p.m.


Wilmington Hammerheads at Charlotte Eagles, 4 p.m.

L.A. Blues at Richmond Kickers, 4 p.m.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Rochester Rhinos, 5 p.m.


L.A. Blues at Harrisburg City Islanders, 4 p.m.

Charleston Battery at Dayton Dutch Lions, 4:30 p.m.

Charlotte Eagles at Wilmington Hammerheads, 4:30 p.m.




Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Division final

Hollywood United 1 (N. Blanco 45), Sacramento Gold 0

League championship

July 28-30 at Madison, Ala.

West: Hollywood United FC

Midwest: Milwaukee Bavarians

Southeast: Jacksonville United

Northeast: Brooklyn Italians or Erie Admirals



Last week's results (home teams listed first)


L.A. Legends 2 (Sanchez 27, 39), Southern California Seahorses 3 (Burt pen. 16, Chongo 18, Suppe 60)


Fresno Fuego 2 (M. Blanco 23, Hedrick 59), L.A. Blues 23 1 (Torres 42)


Orange County Blue Star 1 (Silva 60), Ventura County Fusion 1 (Barrera 82)


Ogden Outlaws 2 (Hatungimana 44, 67), BYU Cougars 1 (Gates 29)

Fresno Fuego 3 (Reinhart 16, 37, Cuevas 32), Southern California Seahorses 1 (Chrzan 51)


Orange County Blue Star 6 (Ponce 10, 32, 52, Riemer 19, Da Silba 64, Gafa 72), L.A. Legends 3 (Raygoza 35, Gonzalez 39, Rivera 91+)

Standings: 1. Fresno Fuego 36 points; 2. Ventura County Fusion 35; 3. Orange County Blue Star 29; 4. Southern California Seahorses 27; 5. BYU Cougars 13; 6. L.A. Blues 23 11; 7. Ogden Outlaws 10; 8. L.A. Legends 4

This week's games (all times Pacific)


BYU Cougars vs. L.A. Blues 23 at BYU South Field (Provo, Utah), 7 p.m.


Ogden Outlaws vs. L.A. Blues 23 at Bonneville HS (Washington Terrace, Utah), 5 p.m

Southern California Seahorses vs. Fresno Fuego at Biola University (La Mirada), 7 p.m.

Ventura County Fusion vs. L.A. Legends at Ventura College, 7 p.m.


L.A. Legends vs. Fresno Fuego at Inglewood HS, 6 p.m.




Last week's results (home teams listed first)


Santa Clarita Blue Heat 1 (Franco 55), L.A. Strikers 1 (Chapman 25)

Victoria Highlanders 3 (Hansen 2, pen. 13, Stewart 84), Colorado Force 2 (Patrick 12, 32)


Seattle Sounders 1 (L. Patterson 47), Victoria Highlanders 1 (Solsberg 38)

Vancouver Whitecaps 3 (C. Patterson 50, Leroux 56, 62), Colorado Force 3 (Gunther 8, 9, 21)


Santa Clarita Blue Heat 0, Pali Blues 0

Seattle Sounders 5 (Kutler 14, 20, Brawner 36, MacDowell 85, 89), Colorado Force 1 (Pena 74)

Final standings: 1. Santa Clarita Blue Heat 29 points; 2. Vancouver Whitecaps 28; 3. Pali Blues 27; 4. Colorado Rush 21; 5. Seattle Sounders 19; 6. L.A. Strikers 13; 7. Colorado Force 11; 8. Victoria Highlanders 6

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Conference final

Santa Clarita Blue Heat vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita), 7 p.m.



Last week's result (home team listed first)


Ajax America 1, Orange County Waves 3

North Bay FC Wave 1, West Coast Wildkatz 1

Clovis Sidekicks 1, Bay Area Breeze 3

California Storm 5, San Francisco Nighthawks 0

San Diego SeaLions 1, Los Al Vikings 1

L.A. Premier 4, Claremont Stars 3


Claremont Stars 1, Los Al Vikings 2

San Francisco Nighthawks 3, Clovis Sidekicks 0

Bay Area Breeze 1, West Coast Wildkatz 0

Final standings

Pacific-South: 1. Orange County Waves 27 points (35 overall); 2. San Diego SeaLions 25 (34); 3. Ajax America 16 (18); 4. Los Al Vikings 8 (11); 5. Los Angeles Premier FC 6 (11); 6. Claremont Stars 6 (8)

Pacific-North: 1. Bay Area Breeze 25 (30); 2. North Bay FC Wave 21 (31); 3. California Storm 16 (18); 4. West Coast Wildkatz 14 (18); 5. San Francisco Nighthawks 5 (9); 6. Clovis Sidekicks 4 (11)

This week's games (all times Pacific)


Conference semifinals

Orange County Waves vs. North Bay FC Wave at Dublin HS, 4 p.m.

Bay Area Breeze vs. San Diego SeaLions at Dublin HS, 7 p.m.


Conference final

Semifinal winners at Dublin HS, 5 p.m.