UWS Week I Preview
The opening weekend of the 2017 United Women’s Soccer season is preparing for kickoff as top amateur teams take the field across the United States.
UWS Soccer News: After the conclusion of its inaugural season, United Women’s Soccer (UWS) is preparing for the second campaign this weekend. The 2017 UWS season welcomes the seven-team Midwest Conference, which was officially announced this past December.
Two of the newest UWS East members — the Western New York Flash and the Rochester Lancers — will begin the season with a two-game road trip this weekend. Defending East champion New Jersey Copa F.C. will host the Lancers on Saturday night as they look to retain the conference crown and qualify for the four-team UWS National Championship Tournament.
Saturday, May 13
The GRFC Women and head coach Lewis Robinson have assembled one of the stronger rosters in the newly-formed Midwest Conference. A trio of local stars will lead the team in their inaugural game, which consists of defender Clare Carlson, midfielder Marti Corby and midfielder Annie Steinlage. Carlson finished her Grand Valley State University career as a 3-time All-American and was part of three Division II National Championship sides. Corby was eligible for the 2017 NWSL Draft after the conclusion of her stellar GVSU career (61 goals) and a call-up to U23 USWNT camp. Steinlage played collegiately at MSU & Virginia and led UVA to the Final Four. In 2013, she was drafted by the Western New York Flash (NWSL) before playing overseas with Finnish side Vaasa IFK.
Michigan Legends FC is led by head coach Saimir Rada — a former professional who holds a UEFA ‘A’ license. Rada has put together a young and exciting squad this season consisting of collegiate talent. Leading the way is defender Avery Hay, the 2016 Big East Freshman of the Year and All-Big East Freshman Team member for DePaul University.
Indy Premier SC opens off its inaugural season at Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI. A young squad is led by Sarah L’Hommodieu, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the Week last fall for Indiana University. IPSC’s roster also includes Kelly Renie, the first Ole Miss Rebel to be named SEC Freshman of the Year (2002) and Freshman All-America; U.S. U18 forward Lauren Rice who has verbally committed to play for the University of Wisconsin and Hannah Leinert, a NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region and All-MVC First Team selection at Illinois State (2013-14).
Toledo Villa FC will be led head coach Lori Williams and player/coach Ella Walsh. Williams has coached the Anthony Wayne H.S. Varsity girls team for 14 seasons. In addition to her high school team, she is on the Olympic Development Staff at both the Ohio North and Region II levels. Walsh is a native of Swansea, Wales and has represented her country at the U15/16 and U19 levels and played club soccer for Swansea City Ladies FC from 2008-2011, competing in the European Champions League (2010 & 2011).
Long Island Rough Riders vs. Western New York Flash
5:00 PM EDT – Saint Anthony’s H.S.
The Long Island Rough Riders will host its official kickoff match of the UWS campaign for the second consecutive year. Team captain and Long Island soccer legend Sue Weber-Alber returns for her eighth season with the club. The 31-year old logged a team-leading 813 minutes in nine games in 2016 and was named to the UWS East All-Conference Team. Forward Christina Bellero (2016 All-East Conference Honorable Mention) also returns after leading the club with six goals (12 points) last campaign.
Western New York Flash joins the UWS after winning the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship. The NWSL rights to the club were sold to the North Carolina Courage. Head coach Gary Bruce — an assistant on WNY’s NWSL title-winning squad — will have the talents of Florida State forward Maddie Pezzino to rely on, who is the most prolific goal scorer in New York State girls soccer history (251 goals).
New Jersey Copa FC vs. Rochester Lancers
7:00 PM EDT – Saint John Vianney H.S.
Following its highly successful inaugural year in the East Conference last season, New Jersey Copa FC will make the move to Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ, for its 2017 season. NJCFC returns four starters from last year’s UWS National Finalists squad. Forwards Krystyna Freda and Jeanine Nunez, midfielder Jackie Bruno and defender Rebecca Raber return for 2017. Freda, Bruno and Nunez were 2016 All-UWS selections while Freda captured UWS Player of the Year honors.
The Lady Lancers first-ever player signings were goalkeeper Caitie Broderick and forward Alexa Antetomaso. Broderick earned Second-Team NJCAA All-America honors at MCC and will join the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks this upcoming fall. Antetomaso played four years at the University of Georgia, moving from defense to forward. She took part in 13 matches last fall and scored the final goal in UGA’s 3-0 victory over Ole Miss.
Sunday, May 14
FC Indiana vs. Detroit Sun FC
2:00 PM EDT – Newton Park
FC Indiana hosts the first-year Detroit Sun club in Lakeville, IN. FCI will take on the challenge of the newly-formed UWS Midwest Conference with a strong squad in its effort to reach another National Championship tournament. In goal this season, there will be strong competition between former Minnesota Golden Gopher Tarah Hobbs (All-Big Ten Second Team) and Andrea Vera, who was a member of the Ecuadorian squad at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Shek Borkowski’s connection with the Puerto Rican Women’s National Team manifests in defender Kelley Johnson and forward Laura Suarez. FCI captain and Indiana University midfielder Annelie Leitner will suit up for her fifth campaign, and is fresh off a call up to the Austrian Women’s National Team for the 2017 Cyprus Cup.
The Detroit Sun started its first season as a pro-am side on a strong note when they hired Skipper Mukhtar as head coach. Mukhtar has won multiple State Championships and led his teams to the 2014 USL W-20 & 2015 WPSL W-20 National titles as well as the 2015 WPSL Great Lakes Division crown. Detroit is led by University of Iowa and U.S U20 Women’s National Team midfielder Natalie Winters. Other top signings include 2016 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Rachel DeLuca, U20 Colombian Women’s National Team midfielder Maria Jaramillo and Bulgarian Player of the Year Evdokia Popadinova.
New York Surf vs. Western New York Flash
2:00 PM EDT – SUNY Maritime
Western NY Flash return to action on Sunday as they make a short road trip from Long Island to Reinhart Field at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx to take on fellow UWS East newcomers, New York Surf. NWSL connections abound with both teams, as the Flash won the league championship last year while the Surf announced in April that they will serve as the amateur affiliate of Sky Blue FC this season.
The Surf will have the experience of Tatiana Saunders in goal as the four-year letter winner at Dartmouth College was selected All-Ivy League on multiple occasions. Midfielder Furtuna Velaj also brings experience to the club as the Albanian international (24 caps) has had a professional career in Europe since being a member of the Boston Breakers in 2012.
New England Mutiny vs. Rochester Lancers
3:00 PM EDT – East Longmeadow H.S.
The Rochester Lancers will travel to western Massachusetts from New Jersey to take on the New England Mutiny. The Mutiny finished in second place of the UWS East last season.
New England captain Kate Howarth returns for her fifth campaign. Howarth led the team in points last season (nine goals, four assists) and was second in league scoring, behind UWS Player of the Year Krystyna Freda. The Mutiny will also have the services of 2016 All-UWS Honorable Mention midfielder Stephanie Santos and All-East Conference defender Jennifer Cafferky this summer.