Turlock’s semi-professional soccer team Academica Soccer Club made history on Saturday night when their inaugural women’s team played in front of their home crowd for the very first time. The club took on the San Francisco Nighthawks in a high scoring matchup that eventually saw the local team walk away victorious.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, head coach Damon Solomon spoke about the highly anticipated home debut and the emotions amongst those within the organization.
“I’m excited for the community, for Turlock, the players, the people coming out to support us, everybody,” Solomon said. “The players have been buzzing since day one.”
Solomon also explained how the day could elevate female soccer players in Turlock and the surrounding communities.
“Especially on the women’s side, they need this. There are a lot of women ballers out here that can show off their talents and a lot of people watching that can become fans of women soccer,” Solomon said.
While there was much anticipation and liveliness before the game, Solomon addressed the fact that it was important to still go out and execute in hopes of grabbing a win. Saturday’s match was the second of the year for Academica after losing their seasoning-opening match 1-0 against the Fresno Freeze on May 29.
“I definitely feel as if the energy before the game can impact the game once it gets underway. We need to go out there and get after it right away,” he said.
Luckily for Solomon and his coaching staff, that’s exactly what happened, but it didn’t come without adversity. After the Nighthawks came out with an early 1-0, Academica’s Kaia Mills scored the first goal in club history with an equalizer to make it a 1-1 game at the half.
Solomon explained that his team came out much better in the second half after making the proper adjustments. The changes led to Sabrina Cabrera, Ainsley Woods and Jaimee Rocha all scoring goals and giving Academica a commanding 4-1 lead.
The Nighthawks would threaten a comeback, scoring two late goals to make it a 4-3 game, but timely defensive plays by the likes of Abby Martinez kept the opposition at bay to secure the first victory in club history. Martinez was named as the Player of the Match for her excellent defense.
Solomon explained the importance of getting the first win of the season, especially in front of a passionate home crowd.
“It was a great night with the fans here and the win, but we’re already ready to get back after it in training,” he said. “This game made the players feel that they got this and they can compete in this league.”
Academica’s next match will also be at home, this time against San Ramon FC on June 11.