SeaLions Clinch Women’s soccer championship

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A soccer goalie is supposed to stop the ball, not score goals. But with former Helix High standout Kaycee Gunion, her ability to do both helped lead the San Diego SeaLions to the 2013 Women’s Professional Soccer League championship.

A soccer goalie is supposed to stop the ball, not score goals. But with former Helix High standout Kaycee Gunion, her ability to do both helped lead the San Diego SeaLions to the 2013 Women’s Professional Soccer League championship.

Gunion both stopped her rival keeper from scoring, then booted the ball into the net on her offensive attempt from the spot, leading to a 2-1 win in the semifinals against defending WPSL Gulf Coast Texans. Less than 24 hours later, Gunion posted another key save which clinched a 2-1 win in the title contest against the Houston Aces. Capping an undefeated season (15-0-1), the championship was the first for the SeaLions, since claiming the WPSL crown in 2000.

“Kaycee’s maturity and composure in the net, makes her one of the best goalkeepers in the game today,” said SeaLions’ head coach Jen Lalor-Nielson, the 2013 WPSL West Region Coach of the Year. “As a coach, you can see certain players destined for bigger and better things; Kaycee is going to do just that.”

Gunion, a four-time NAIA All-America selection while at CSU San Marcos, is also a four-year veteran of the SeaLions.

In the semis, a clean sheet capped regulation time, but the Texans scored in the 117th minute. In the seconds prior to the final whistle, a ball was played into the box, where center-back Sarah Devine got a head on it and redirected it into the back of the net. After 20 penalty kicks the contest came down to keeper versus keeper.

Gunion stepped up and rocketed her shot past Gulf Coast’s Sarah Story and then jumped back into the net.  Story sent her shot straight down the center. Gunion dove to her right, but was able to block the shot with her leg, clinching the SeaLions a spot in the championship match against Houston. In the final, defender Sarah Devine scored two critical goals, including the game-winner.

Awarded a free kick by the right sideline around the 18, forward Nikki Petracca set the shot and played it into the box where it found Devine.

“I have never in my life scored three times in two games,” Devine exclaimed. “The fact that I was able to find the ball in the jumble of players and direct it back toward the net blows my mind.”

SeaLions’ president, assistant coach and former goalie Lu Snyder has been waiting for this day for many years.

“This championship was very special,” said Snyder. “I have never been involved with a team that would fight to the very last second of the game like we did. We didn’t do that just once, we did it three times. From our fans to our players and staff, we all believed, trusted and fought for each other, and those are the true signs of what champions are made of.”

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