DEL MAR — Sunday signaled the return of the WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League) and the San Diego SeaLions soccer with a strong 5-1 win over the Ajax America Women during the team’s home opener at Cathedral Catholic High School’s Manchester Stadium.
From all accounts the strength of women’s soccer in San Diego looks to be in a position of growth.
Before the first home game of the season, Rachel Buehler, U.S. Women’s National Team defender and co-captain, former SeaLion and Torrey Pines High School graduate signed autographs and visited with fans.
Buehler played for the SeaLions from 2006 to 2008. She credits the team for allowing her a chance to improve her game. “It was a really important thing for me to play on the SeaLions,” she said. “It was kind of towards the end of my college career and right before I was with the national team really that I was playing with them, and it was a great opportunity for me to continue playing and develop my game and give me something beyond college to help me improve.”
Buehler, who grew up in Del Mar, said it meant a lot to be able to play for her hometown team, too.
As for the continuing growth of women’s soccer in San Diego, Buehler said that the city is a great soccer town where the game has been very strong. “And I think having the SeaLions is great because that can carry on to the more adult, true women’s league and I think it’s really important for San Diego to have a strong team and to really continue developing this team and growing the fan base so that women’s soccer can continue growing in the country.”
The SeaLions were established in 1988 and is one of the oldest female soccer clubs in the United States.
During the match against Ajax, midfielder Rosie Tantillo scored a hat trick, helping to propel the SeaLions to their second win of the season.
For goalie Kaycee Gunion, who graduated from Cal State San Marcos this year, the team’s goal this year is to go all the way to Florida, she said.
That’s where the WPSL Championships will be held. Two seasons ago the team missed out on the opportunity to play in the regional playoffs on goal differential.
Last year the team went to the regional playoffs, winning the first match but missed a trip to the championship on penalty kicks against the OC Waves.
The SeaLions next play Beach FC June 9 in Los Angeles. They return home to play the Blues June 16 at 7:30 p.m.
This story has been altered since its original posting.