Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scott key contributor in fledgling league's inaugural game

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FROM London, back to Winnipeg and now on to Kansas City.

Hometown Olympic soccer heroine Desiree Scott was part of the inaugural game of the National Women's Soccer League Saturday, as Scott and the FC Kansas City Blues battled the Portland Thorns to a 1-1 draw in front of a sold-out crowd at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

"It was a very exciting time for me," Scott told the Free Press on Sunday. "The support is phenomenal... It's just a place where you can be yourself and enjoy the game."

In a game billed by local media as a matchup between the top two teams in the eight-team NWSL, Kansas got the scoring started early, with forward Renae Cuellar scoring in the third minute of play. It was the first goal in the league's history.

Portland forward Christine Sinclair, a teammate of Scott's on Canada's national team, evened the game in the 66th minute off a penalty kick. Sinclair along with Portland forward Alex Morgan were held to two shots.

Playing against Sinclair -- one of the world's top strikers -- was "a little bit scary," said Scott. But she relished the challenge. "It makes me better."

Kansas coach Vlatko Andonovski praised his team's tenacity on the league's website.

"When you play against the two best forwards in the world and keep them in check like we did, it is impressive," Andonovski said.

"Buzz (Jen Buczkowski) and Desi Scott were given the task of preventing them (Morgan and Sinclair) from getting the ball and they did a tremendous job."

Scott, 25, won a bronze medal with Canada's national women's soccer team alongside Sinclair at last year's Olympics in London, England.

Scott and Sinclair were among 16 Canadian players distributed to eight NWSL teams in January. Fans can follow the games online at NWSLsoccer.com.

Scott said the move to the pro league will bring big dividends to the national team.

"I hope it helps my confidence, just getting on the ball and getting that game fitness and playing a game a week is going to be really helpful for me," she said. "I'm training with the best on a daily basis."


-- with files from Melissa Martin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 15, 2013 C6

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