San Diego Strikers win SoCal Plymouth Division Title in inaugural WPSL season

With a Roster Mixed with Experience and Youth, the Strikers Finished First WPSL Season Undefeated and Outscoring Opponents 19/1
Published Jul 27, 2021
Photo Credits:   San Diego Strikers Media


To say the San Diego Strikers debut WPSL season was a success would be a gross understatement. When it looked like their conference wouldn’t be able to play, they went a perfect 6-0-0 en route to the SO CAL Conference Plymouth Division title – scoring 19 goals and conceding just one.

Striker’s head coach, Ray Taila, credits the chemistry of this team as the reason for the club’s resounding success.

We were really lucky to have the right blend of experienced [players] and young players, the chemistry was awesome.” Taila said. “You would see the older, more experienced players out there giving such positive feedback to the younger players, helping them, showing them how to be better, leading by example. As the season went on you could see the younger players getting more and more confident on the field, making more of an impact.”

University of California at San Diego graduates, Kiera Bocchino and Cassie Callahan, are just two examples of the experience advantage Taila had on roster. Both UCSD standouts, forward Bocchino recorded 20 goals and 14 assists during her collegiate career and Callahan recorded 23 goals and 18 assists. The two brought that experience and talent to this WPSL season by collectively being involved in nine of the 19 goals the Strikers scored.

With some of the strictest Covid-19-related restrictions in the country still steadfastly in place at the beginning of June, whether the Plymouth Division, featuring teams from the San Diego area, would even play was in question, and if they did, just how many clubs would field a team.

The fact that Taila and assistant coach, Jorge Palacios, were able to cobble a roster together at all, let alone such a dominant one, was something just short of a miracle. But the biggest challenge Taila said he faced was just finding a place to play.


It was not until the league neared the end of Week 3 of season, after California began to re-open, that he was able to secure a location – Clairemont High School. Talia’s next order of business was to prepare his players for their season-opener and the fast-paced schedule.


We didn’t have the time we are accustomed to getting everyone fit and ready to play,” Taila said. “Injuries were a real concern because the players did not have the time to get fully fit.”


The Strikers opened their inaugural WPSL season on the road against ASC San Diego on June 13. Loyola University senior forward Jourdan Ziff scored the club’s first league goal in the 1-0 win. Their next three matches would be home at Clairemont High where Talia’s side would outscore their opponents 12/0 and hold a commanding lead in division standings.

Ziff and Bocchino finished the season tied for second in scoring with three goals apiece behind forward Cori Deason who recorded four including a brace in the Striker’s 5-0 versus Breakaway SC to secure the division title with two games to play.


Cori was incredible for us, both on and off the field,” Taila said. “She was willing to do whatever it took to make the team successful. Whether it was scoring goals or handling the team’s social media to get the word out, she did it.”


University of San Diego sophomore midfielder Aryssa Mahrt also made an impact in the Strikers' offense, recording three assists and netting a goal of her own in their season finale over Oceanside Dutch Lions FC where they finished just as they started – with a win on the road.

As strong as the Strikers were offensively, Taila credits the team’s stifling defense, led by captain Rachel Sadowski, for the club’s ultimate success in its debut season. They conceded only a single goal all season, in a 4-1 win at Breakaway SC, after the division title was already secured.

With the resounding on-field success of the Strikers’ inaugural season, Talia is already working to improve on things for the 2022 season, particularly off the field, including growing the club’s fanbase and deepening relationships with professional clubs.


Ultimately, we want to help prepare players for the next level, whatever that may be,” Taila said. Whether it is a youth player getting ready to play in college, or for college players who want to play professionally.”



  Author:  Andrew Mosier,   @AndrewMosier6  (Twitter)
  WPSL Contributor - West Region






San Diego CA