WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – In the first soccer game played in a national league since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Unity FC recorded a 4-1 victory over the Orlando FC Royals in a United Women’s Soccer-2 league match on Saturday.
When the schedule makers pitted the two local clubs in an opening season derby, they did not anticipate that this would be the first women’s match in a national league to take place in 2020. The home side did not disappoint the fans as although most of the supporters were relegated to watching the match in the comforts of their own home.
“To get on the field tonight was a dream that these girls have had since last year,” Unity head coach Kristine Ford said. “The players put in a lot of hard work and it showed that they are all a part of Unity and I am very proud of the effort. For me to be part of UWS-2 is something I never thought would happen and to be coaching at this level is very exciting. I love giving these girls the opportunity and I hope to see them go far.”
Yasmine Devalle (West Virginia Tech) put the home side in front in the 20th minute as she slotted home a pass from Dayne Ford (Webber International). Ford made a run down the right flank past a Royals defender and sliding the ball across the frame of goal where Devalle finished past Royals goalkeeper Kristal Garcia (Concord University). Unity FC doubled its lead in the 40th minute with a free kick from Racquel Standifer. Standifer blasted her 25-yard set piece past the diving Garcia.
Feeling a sense of urgency, the Royals came out strong in the second half, dominating play in the opening 10 minutes. The Royals received the break they needed when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 55th minute. The Royals could not covert and the wind seemimgly had been taken out of their sails. Alexa Torres (Northern Oklahoma) increased Unity’s lead to 3-0 after capitalizing on Standifer’s through ball.
Tia Wynn (Sunrise FC) pulled a goal back for the Royals in the 68th minute but it proved to be a little too late. Kayla Doyle (Southern Wesleyan) capped the scoring with an assist from Megan Warner (Webber International). Unity outshot the Royals, 13-10. Kristen Goergen (University of Colorado) made six saves for Unity while the tandem of Garcia and Joann Castillo stopped seven for the visitors.
“Overall good game, played at a great facility,” Orlando FC Coach Marcus Phil Don said. “Unity was the better team of the night and deserved the victory. They were a great host and we’re proud they joined us in the UWS league.”
In the second matchup of 2020, SportsParadize Soccer Academy will take on Unity FC on Saturday, June 27th at NE Regional Park (Davenport, Florida). More details to follow.