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March 17, 2010 > Gold Pride off to strong start

Gold Pride off to strong start

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

Women's Professional Soccer's (WPS) lone West Coast representative, FC Gold Pride of Hayward, got its 2010 season off with two preseason wins over Japanese J1 League club team TEPCO Mareeze at Mustang Soccer Complex in Danville: 3-0 in a closed scrimmage on Wednesday, March 10; and 4-1 in the first official exhibition match on Saturday, March 13.

Pride top pick (third overall) of the 2010 WPS Draft, Stanford's Kelley O'Hara, led the way for the Pride in the team's unofficial win over TEPCO on Wednesday. Camille Abily, acquired by the Pride in the off season by the since-defunct Los Angeles Sol via trade, scored twice in the team's Saturday-night victory.

"We're scoring goals and that's what we're looking for," said Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "I think (Abily) is one of the best players in the world. Watching her play ... I'm excited with the opportunity to work with her."

Christine Sinclair and Rosie Tantillo netted the other two goals in the victory. Other notable players seeing the field included 2010 first-round draft pick out of Stanford Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson (returning to play after suffering a season-ending injury in 2009), Candace Chapman, Tiffeny Milbrett and captain Rachel Buehler.

The Pride dominated both its matches last week despite playing without arguably its best player, four-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta, who was acquired in the L.A. Sol's dispersal draft last month. Marta, a member of the Brazilian National Team, began her training on Tuesday, March 16, on the Mustang Soccer Complex in Danville. (Log onto the Tri-City Voice Sports Web site at www.tricityvoice.com/sports for full coverage of Marta's arrival to the Bay Area.)

"Things are falling into place, and we haven't added Marta to the puzzle," said Montoya. "You add that to it and it might be interesting (on the offensive side of the ball)."

FC Gold Pride will next take on University of San Francisco in its final exhibition match on Thursday, March 25, 7:30 p.m. at Negoesco Stadium in San Francisco. FC Gold Pride open ups its regular season April 11 at St. Louis Athletica before returning for the home opener on Saturday, April 17, 7 p.m. against defending champion Sky Blue FC at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium.

"This group has really come to understand what we're trying to do as a coaching staff and what we're trying to build, which is more than just a team, it's a family," said Montoya. "You can see how they communicate with each other and help each other on and off the field and I think that's extremely important for us to be successful."

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