May 27, 2016
A look at the upcoming games
Houston Aces at Real Salt Lake Women @ Davis High School Stadium, Kaysville, Utah, 7:00 PM MT)
Still riding high after winning the WPSL Elite Championship last July, Real Salt Lake Women are eager to hit the pitch and replicate their success in this new national pro-am league. The team returns solid veteran leadership with team co-captains forward Annie Hawkins and former Brigham Young University forward Colette Smith. Smith was team captain at BYU and Hawkins has played professionally in Sweden in the Damallsvenskan for QBIK and was First Team All-West Coast Conference in 2003 & 2004 at Gonzaga University.
Midfielder Kira Sharp will also be returning to the team. Hawkins, Sharp and Smith have been responsible for a majority of the teams goals & assists the past two seasons. Two-time WAC Defensive Player of the Year selection Natalie Norris anchors the back line with 2008 Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP Rebecca Ritchie defending the net.
In his first year at the helm, Aces Head Coach Mark Davis has brought in some impressive young talent including five BYU players. Midfielder Bizzy Phillips Bowen, forward Madie Lyons, midfielder Elena Medeiros, midfielder/forward Michele Murphy Vasconcelos and defender Stephanie Ringwood are all dynamic additions to the squad.
Just this week, the team added three University of Utah players to help strengthen the side: forward Max Flom, midfielder Katie Rigby and defender Baylee Nielsen. Houston will look to rebound after a devastating 10-1 loss to Santa Clarita last weekend to start their season in the West Conference.
New York Magic at New Jersey Copa F.C. @ Mercer County Community College , West Windsor Township, NJ, 4:00 PM ET
In the UWS East Conference, New Jersey Copa F.C. will look to improve on the 1-1 draw they had against the Long Island Rough Riders in their home opener this past Sunday. While on the other side of the pitch, the New York Magic are simply looking to get on the score board as they lost to East leaders New England Mutiny by a 3-0 score in their season opener on Saturday, May 14th.
The span of two weeks in between their first match and this Sundayís encounter vs. NJCFC may vey well work in the Magicís favor. The team will be rested and have gone over the mistakes from their opening loss in practice. Head Coach Nino DePasquali will look to his Spanish forward Gabriela Morales for inspiration in attack, as the 2015 NEC All-Conference First Team selection from Saint Francis University was his top scoring threat in the game against the Mutiny.
Copa has seen a lot of action already to begin their UWS campaign, as this will be their fourth game in the first three weeks of 2016. They may have felt the after-effects of two matches in two days during the waning moments of last Sundayís draw with Long Island, but the play of their goalkeeper Kristyn Shea certainly inspired the team. A pair of big saves late in the match propelled her to UWS East Defensive Player of the Week honors, leading the team to a 1-0-1 record on the weekend.
NJCFC scored five goals over the past two games, with thanks to forward Krystyna Freda (two goals) and forward Jeanine Nunez (two goals, assist). On the other side of the ball, New York keeper Samantha Depken was solid in the loss to New England, making nine saves.