Colorado women’s soccer team looking to make their mark by winning their first-ever championship

In a city dominated by men’s sports, a women’s soccer team has the chance to anchor its name in the city’s sports championship tradition: The Mile High Blaze.

The team is participating in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Division II National Championship in Canton, OH for the first time in franchise history this weekend.

“There’s a reason this team is here and we’re coming in, and we’re going to fight,” quarterback Kimberly Santistevan said.

Santistevan has been with the team since they started playing in 2013 as Mile High Cowgirls. The team then had only 20 players. Santisteva said the team chemistry was stronger than ever.

“It’s just an amazing feeling and now I think we have an even bigger focus on us this time,” Sanitstevan said. “It’s just one more reason to work so hard.”

For nine seasons, the Blazes had their fair share of successes and disappointments. After three straight years of failure, the team, which went 5-1 in the regular season, finally clinched their ticket to the championship by beating Houston Energy, 12-6, in the American Conference Championship game. at Aurora Public Stadium two weeks ago.

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Blaze head coach Rob Sandlin, who has won national titles with junior and men’s teams, said his athletes are passionate about the sport.

“There are women on this team who have been playing for 15 years and you know we have a 52-year-old running back,” said Sandlin, who is in her sixth full-time year with the team.

The WFA is the largest and oldest women’s football league in the country. It started in 2009 and has three divisions.

“[They] start in January and their first match isn’t until April. They are here kicking ass for eight months of the year. So to be able to bring it home and let them reap the rewards is good,” Sandlin said.

The Blazes are the favorites heading into the title match against the Derby City Dynamite of Louisville, KY. This team was promoted to Division II after winning the Division III National Championship last season. After a 2-4 start, the Dynamite warmed up in the playoffs and beat last year’s National Conference champion Baltimore Nighthawks 40-12.

Santistevan said winning would be special because a women’s sport in not just the city, but Colorado has never been this far.

“I think it’s more pressure for that than for the city itself. But, it’s good to know that we are and represent all of Colorado,” Santistevan said.

The WFA Division II National Championship begins at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH on Saturday at 6 p.m.

About Betty J. Snyder

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