The wait is over for the Stockton soccer community as the United Soccer League Women’s Stockton Cargo hosted its inaugural match on Saturday.
Just nine months ago Stockton Cargo was announced to the 209 as the highest level of outdoor soccer in the city for women. Now SCS is filling up the San Joaquin Delta College’s Soccer Field bleachers for their 2023 season opener against the Oakland Soul.
“I’m feeling a lot of things right now. I’m grateful for the crowd we have, they have been fantastic,” said Lee Neves, Stockton Cargo’s owner and president. “It was raining earlier but the sky opened up for us and I couldn’t have asked for a better day to play soccer.”
After a valiant effort, SCS fell short against Oakland losing its first match 3-2. Here are some takeaways from the Cargo’s inaugural match.
Oakland controls the pace
SCS took the field and its hands were full against the Soul, which is also a newcomer to the league and a part of USLW’s West Coast expansion. The Cargo’s goalie Madison Covey-Taylor had to defend the net early, but it was no match for Oakland’s forward Nayeli Diaz. Diaz scored the first goal of the match putting her team up 1-0.
Things didn’t get any better for SCS as the feeling of having to catch up caused some defensive errors. Those errors gave way for another goal for the Soul at the 20-minute mark this time from forward Cecila Gee.
Trailing by two, Cargo co-head coaches, Anahie Duran and Sialei Manuleleua challenged their team to leave it all out on the field towards the closing of the half.
Midfielder Alexis Brewah, also known as “Bobby” to her teammates, answered the call.
Cargo pushes for a comeback
With under 10 minutes to go in the first half, Brewah found the Cargo’s first opening through Oakland’s stiff defense. She snuck in the team’s first-ever goal. The home crowd went into a frenzy.
“It felt awesome honestly,” Brewah said. “Having this team in its inaugural season and this being the first time playing on the field with these girls. It was just amazing honestly.”
Brewah’s goal lit a fire in her team and momentum finally felt like it was on Cargo’s side. Despite Oakland responding with another clutch goal from Gee to close out the half, SCS was still in the match.
To start the second half, Cargo’s midfielder Haley Bostard got things started. Bostard scored SCS’s second goal.
“We came back from being down 2-0 and we were resilient that entire time just sticking to the game plan,” Manuleleua said. “I’m just glad that the girls stuck in it and didn’t let the momentum of the game be the factor.”
Although SCS didn’t have enough to pull off the comeback, it’ll be back in action on May 13 in the comforts of home. The Cargo will host another USLW West Coast expansion team, Marin FC.
“I think that we just need to go back to the drawing board,” Manuleleua said. “I definitely think that this game kind of helped us figure out our game plan, which to me is really just playing what we see and adapting to the game.”
For Brewah and the rest of the Cargo, the remainder of the season will be ample time to build up team chemistry that can translate on the field.
“We still need to build up that chemistry but it’s just the first game of the season,” she said. “We can only go up from here. So go, Stockton Cargo, and come out to our game next week.”
Record reporter Shannon Belt covers sports. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonBelt3. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Stockton Cargo hosts inaugural soccer match as USLW affiliate