For a team used to playing and practicing at sea level, last week's road trip to Colorado tested not only Pali Blues' soccer skills but also its stamina, and in the end Coach Charlie Naimo's squad displayed plenty of both in victories Friday and Sunday over the Fort Collins Force and Real Colorado Cougars.
On Friday, the Blues traveled to Fort Collins, and neither the weather nor the altitude hampered the visitors' play. Danesha Adams and Amy LePeilbet scored two early goals and goalie Karen Bardsley made the lead stand up in a 2-1 victory.
Two days later the Blues were in Centennial to take on Real Colorado and the visitors dominated the contest, winning 5-1 thanks to a natural hat trick in the first half by forward Katy Cross. The Ivy League graduate needed 32 minutes to score three times, the first off an assist from UCLA product Jill Oakes in the second minute.
Leading 3-1 at halftime, the Blues turned up the pressure in the second half and their aggressiveness paid off when Kendall Fletcher was fouled in the penalty area and converted the ensuing penalty kick. Liz Bogus added a goal in the 83rd minute.
"We played our best half of the season today in the second half, which is a really good sign," Naimo said. "After a slow start we only allowed one shot over the last 45 minutes."
The back-to-back wins kept the Blues undefeated (5-0-0) and in first place in the W-League's Western Conference. They return to the friendly confines of Stadium by the Sea on Sunday to host the second-place Vancouver Whitecaps in a Father's Day matinee (1 p.m.) before crossing the border to play the Whitecaps again June 22 in Vancouver.