IT was the best day so far for Winnipeg's newest soccer team.
The WSA Winnipeg soccer team recorded its first Premier Development League (PDL) victory Sunday with a 3-0 shutout over the Thunder Bay Chill at the University of Manitoba's indoor soccer pitch.
The team will host the Des Moines Menace June 7-8 also at the U of M facility, but expects to play the remaining four home games after that outdoors at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex. WSA Winnipeg is playing a 16-game schedule in the six-team Heartland Division of the 64-team PDL.
"To be a new team and get our first win against a team that was last year's (USL) finalist with so many great fans here supporting us, it was just awesome," said Ivan Garcia, 23, the WSA Winnipeg captain who scored his team's third goal on a header after a free kick in the 70th minute after a yellow card was assessed to Thunder Bay's Wilson Neto for a hard tackle on Winnipeg striker Amos Ganyea.
"It's a huge win, a huge confidence builder. We do expect a really hard, hard season, but the guys played with so much heart. It's really special to be a part of bringing this level of soccer to Winnipeg."
WSA Winnipeg lost 1-0 to Thunder Bay Saturday in its season opener.
After a scoreless first half, WSA Winnipeg stormed out in the second half scoring in the 48th minute on a header by Kenny Sacramento, who was carried off five minutes later with shoulder injury. Ganyea scored in the 66th minute for a 2-0 lead.
The Winnipeg side also changed goalkeepers at the half. Starting keeper Dylan O'Connor left the game with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Kyle Kilcup.
"Today we believed we can play with the big boys," said coach Eduardo Badescu, noting Sunday's game was much more physical than Saturday's and his team responded to the challenge. "They (Thunder Bay) wanted to send a message 'we are the (division) champions, you are new in the league' but it didn't work for them today. It worked for us."
The crowd of 420 included at least a dozen players from Winnipeg's World Soccer Academy elite youth soccer training centre who gave the event a little European soccer flavour as they cheered, chanted and sang throughout the game.
The home side celebrated their goals in front of the youngsters.
"It is amazing," said Antoni Lavilla, 11. "I like that I can come here and watch great soccer rather than having to watch it on TV. I really like the feeling of being here live."