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RSL Women face crucial two-match weekend

A road trip to Southern California has the potential to shape RSLW’s playoff hopes for 2017.

RSL Women 2 (photo by Mark McClellan)

While the men’s first team for Real Salt Lake is completing their two-match swing through Texas, Real Salt Lake Women (1-1-0) will join Real Monarchs in the Los Angeles area for two matches of their own this weekend in United Women’s soccer action.

While the Monarchs are facing off against Orange County SC in Irvine, the women’s team will be a few miles north in Montrose to rematch against So Cal Crush SC (1-1-0). The newly-formed California club were surprise winners when they kicked off the season against RSLW two weeks ago, claiming a 2-0 victory before falling 4-0 to Santa Clarita in their home opener the following week. So Cal will be pushing hard for their first home victory in UWS, led by the stellar play of Nancy Avesyan (0 G, 1 A) and solid goalkeeping of Adriana Maldonado (4 GA, 9 saves), and will be confident in knowing they got the better of RSLW despite having less possession and fewer shots on goal in the first meeting.

For RSLW, it’s a critical stretch as points come at a premium with only 8 matches in the short season. The weekend represents 25% of the schedule, and RSLW stands in a three-way tie in first place with 3 points at the moment, but that can all change depending on the outcome of these two matches.

Making things more difficult is the fact that RSLW will be asked to follow up the So Cal match tonight with a second game on Sunday against Santa Clarita Blue Heat, coming just 22 hours after the completion of the So Cal match. Last year’s UWS Champions will have had 8 days rest before facing RSLW, and boast a roster that is much improved over their already impressive squad from 2016. Braces from Carolina Venegas and Emily Madril gave them the aforementioned 4-0 win against So Cal last Friday, and Santa Clarita is sure to come out aggressive knowing they have a tired opponent.

To their credit, RSLW will make no excuses about travel and scheduling, relying on their preparation and depth to get the best possible results from these two matches. The team faced a similar, if slightly less difficult situation last season with two matches in Colorado in a span of 44 hours, and came away with two hard-fought victories. A strong showing again in this tough spot can go a long way in showing the strength of this team and keep pace with the top of the West Conference.

You can follow @RealSaltLakeWmn, @SoCalCrushFC, and @SCBlueHeat on Twitter for match updates, and of course we’ll have post-game recaps here on RSL Soapbox. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Mountain for both matches.