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Academica women grab first ever USL win; men lose to split Marin doubleheader
Academica women
The Academica SC women’s squad pose in front of the scoreboard at the Academica Fields in Turlock on Saturday evening after earning their first USL W win in team history, a 4-3 shootout victory over the Marin FC Sirens (Photo courtesy of Academica SC).

Turlock’s semiprofessional soccer club, Academica SC, is celebrating another milestone for their women’s team as they earned their first win in the United Soccer League as they beat the Marin FC Sirens by a 4-3 score on Saturday evening. The win served as the highlight of the day as the men’s squad fell to the Marin FC Legends 2-1 in the doubleheader nightcap.

The Academica ladies wasted little time providing local fans with some action at the Academica Fields in Turlock, taking the pitch first and scoring in just the eighth minute of play thanks to Sabrina Cabrera, a senior at Stanislaus State.

“We are so fortunate to have Sabrina with us because we know the impact she can make,” said Academica WSC head coach James Burns, referring to the fact that she nearly opted to not play this summer. “She’s an All-League player… someone who truly makes a difference when she is out there.”

When Marin FC eventually answered back in the 33rd minute with a goal by Lena Sugrue, Academica’s Trinidad Quiroz, a junior at UC Merced, took matters into her owns hands – or feet in this case. A minute after Sugrue tied the match, Quiroz found the back of the net herself to give the Turlock team 2-1 lead. The score would be equalized again just six minutes later as Marin’s Katherine Mazzucco scored.

The late first half goal and the cooldown of the intermission didn’t kill any of Academica’s determination or momentum, though, as Quiroz scored again in the 51st minute to make it a 3-2 match. Like the first half, Marin FC didn’t stay down for long as Briana Salvetti scored in the 73rd minute.

“Trini is one of those goal hunters we have and is such an impactful player. I’m truly blessed to have her on the team,” Burns said. “She is relentless on the offensive side.”

With things tied at three goals apiece and time ticking on the clock, Burns inserted Mia Howard, a rising senior at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater, into the game. Ten minutes into her substitution, she gave her team the lead for good, receiving a perfect ball right in front of the Marin FC goalkeeper before dribbling it past her for the go-ahead and game-winning goal.

“It was a weird thing and an odd situation where we needed some fresh legs with the conditions being so hot, and Mia is still so young, but she really provided us with a spark and made the most of her limited opportunity,” Burns said. “She knew she only had a couple of minutes to make an impact, and she took it. She’s another one who just hunts for goals. It’s great to see her be one of the players at her age do everything she can to get better. She is so determined and it’s cool to see that pay off and continue to pay off moving forward.”

Burns explained that his team used the game as a fresh start for the season.

“I was telling everyone that this game can be a fresh start for us. I wrote it down on the whiteboard in the locker room and said, ‘Hey, we weren’t dealt a great hand at the start of the season, having to travel to play the top team.’ We’re getting some players back (spring seasons, school, etc.) and things are starting to come together... Some mistakes are still coming back to bite us, but I am so proud of the growth these ladies have already had.”

He also credited the likes of Jaedyn Sanders and Jadyn Shinn for fascilitiating many of the scores, as well as his defense made up of players like Brianna Figueroa, Kylee Redman, Kinsey Taa and Genesis Maciel for holding it down on the defensive end in front of goalkeeper Natalia Ochoa.

“It was an exciting moment for us to get this first win. A lot of the girls were excited to know that their names will be remembers and will be going down in the history books,” Burns said. “No matter where Academica goes or how big they grow, people will turn back to this team and know that they were the ones that played the first games and won for the first time.”

In the men’s match, a similar start unfolded as Academica jumped out to a 1-0 lead just three minutes in after a goal from Felipe Lopez. Unfortunately for head coach Sergio Sousa and his squad, the quick goal did not foreshadow the remainder of the match, as it was the only goal for them on the night.

As for Marin FC, they were able to tie things up in the 11th minute of play with a goal from Owen Benson. They took the lead in the 25th minute after a foal from Alexandre Bernier. The remainder of the game remained a defensive struggle as neither team added to the scoring total.

The men’s record drops to 1-4-1, leaving them in sixth place in the USL League Two’s NorCal division. They’ll try to get back into the win column in their next match on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kezar Stadium against San Francisco City FC. Meanwhile, the women will look to build off the win when they take on the California Storm (Sacramento) at home on Saturday at 7 p.m.