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Storm falls to Bay Area Breeze

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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The California Storm of Sacramento missed their chance to step into first place, losing 3-0 to visiting Bay Area Breeze on Saturday night at Folsom’s Prairie City Stadium. Recent injuries have kept the Storm to a minimized roster. Seven players, including two-time gold medalist with the U.S. National Team, Aly Wagner and two other starters, suffered recent injuries. On top of injuries, Brandi Chastain, 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner, is an analyst with ESPN in Germany for the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which begins this week. Former Brazilian Women’s National star Sissi Do Amor has also reportedly been playing lately with a stress fracture in her left foot. Safe to say, the Storm was hurting. The Breeze scored two first-half goals in the 20th and 30th minute to go up 2-0 into halftime. Again in the 70th minute the Storm saw their chances at first place in the Women’s Premiere Soccer League dwindle. Prior to the loss the Storm was in a four-way tie with North Bay FC Wave, Livermore’s West Coast Wildkatz and the Breeze, all three other teams from the Bay Area. With just five games left, Head Coach Jerry Zanelli said it was unlikely the Storm will win the North Division of the Pacific Conference. He said without some key players and veterans the college-age players are gaining experience. “They played as well as they could have. We just got outplayed by a professional team from the Bay Area,” said Zanelli. “We had a lot of opportunities, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the net. Even though three goals were given up, they were long-range goals. They next few games will make a difference in who does win the division.” The Storm missed a couple shots off the crossbar and couldn’t capitalize on breakaway runs at goal. Their defenders kept the Breeze at a distance; unfortunately, they were also on target from distance as well. First the Storm will have to contend with both the Orange County Waves and the San Diego Sea Lions of the Pacific Conference, South Division. Both Southern California teams are 5-1-0 and tied for the top spot in their division. The Storm (3-3-1) dropped to fourth place with the loss and would need North Bay FC Wave (5-0-2) to lose most of their five final games to contend for the division win. Some former and current college players from the Sacramento area will be counted on to complete a successful five games to close the regular season. From UC Davis are Marisa Boge, Rogan Dolan and Aisha Lott. Six players from Sac State include Katelin Hopping, Leah Larot, Missy Matzen, Katie McCoy, Felicia Nova and Maureen Whitney, former assistant coach with Sac State Hornets women’s soccer and current coach at Fresno State. Zanelli said around 150 fans were present at Saturday’s loss to the Breeze and as he eyes moving the Storm to the Women’s Soccer League next year, he said it was likely it wouldn’t be in Sacramento. Facility costs at Folsom High School run around $550 per game. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids, but children often are admitted for free as a local youth soccer team promotion. If breaking even is the best-case scenario, the last three Storm home games are likely their last in Folsom and north of the Bay Area. The Storm is back at Folsom High on July 9 against the West Coast Wildkatz. Their last two games are on scheduled for July 10 against the North Bay FC Wave and the San Francisco Nighthawks on the 16th.