June 17, 2016
A look at the upcoming games
FRIDAY, JUNE 17
Real Salt Lake Women (1-1-1, 4 pts) at Colorado Pride (2-1-0, 6pts) @ Washburn Field, Colorado Springs, Colo, 7:00 PM MT
Last Sunday, the Pride had a chance to lay sole claim to the top spot in the UWS West, but after weathering numerous lightning delays, the home side came up dry against the Houston defense as the Aces scored the lone goal in their 1-0 road victory. Real Salt Lake had to deal with some inclement weather themselves in their home match vs. Santa Clarita last Saturday, taking advantage of a late penalty kick decision for the 1-1 draw. Only two points separate last-place and first-place, so two positive results for the Real Women this weekend on the road will do them a world of good.
In their three matches so far, they have not had a bad game so another strong showing could be a start of a run for the West title. RSL held the run of play but were out-done by a stingy Houston defense in their season-opening loss, while they were victorious over the Aces on June 4th and did well to get the point against a strong Blue Heat team. In this match, however, Real Salt Lake will unfortunately go up against a Pride side who must still be feeling the sting of their last defeat.
Colorado’s defense has been strong this season, allowing only two goals in three games. Yet, the same can’t be said for their attack, as the Pride have managed only three goals scored with one of them being a last-minute game-winner against the Storm on June 5th. Getting their offense on track against the Real Women will be a tough task, as their defense has allowed only three goals and are led by veterans Natalie Norris and West Defensive Player of the Week Rebecca Ritchie.
SATURDAY, JUNE 18
New England Mutiny (3-1-0, 9 pts) at New York Magic (0-2-1, 1 pt) @ Mazzella Field, New Rochelle, NY 4:00 PM T
These two rivals went up against each other in their first game of the season on May 14th, with New England winning at home by a 3-0 score. The Mutiny sent the capacity crowd at East Longmeadow High School home smiling as they scored three first-half goals. Team captain Kate Howarth paced New England’s offense, scoring two goals, while up-and-coming talent Abby Sotomayor added a goal and an assist.
New York were held scoreless in that match, and only managed to score their first goal of the season last Saturday. Magic veteran Shani Abrahams notched her team’s first goal of the season on an assist from Sara Sanau-Ruiz in the 41st minute in the 1-1 draw with TSF Academy. The score stayed tied with thanks to East Co-Defensive Player of the Week selection Samantha Depken, who made back-to-back saves in the first half (six saves overall) to keep New York in the game.
Both sides will be looking for a win, but for different reasons. The Mutiny are in the midst of the race for the conference title and berth into the UWS Championship, and two victories over the weekend will strengthen their credentials as they pass the midway point of their 2016 season. The Magic notched their first point of the season last weekend, and will most certainly want to get three points on Saturday afternoon against their old W-League adversary.
Lancaster Inferno (2-2-0, 6 pts) at New Jersey Copa F.C. (4-1-1, 13 pts) @ Mercer County Community College, West Windsor Township, NJ
New Jersey and Lancaster will complete their home-and-home series on Saturday, as both sides faced off last weekend. The Inferno hosted Copa at Millersville University’s Pucillo Field and unfortunately were a bit too hospitable with their guests, as NJCFC reeled off three first half goals en route to a 5-0 victory. Lancaster has enjoyed success on the road this season, winning at New England and Long Island. So, they are hoping to turn the frown of that devastating loss upside down and get their defensive tactics back into shape.
For New Jersey, they just need to continue their strong upwards development on both ends of the pitch. Since their season-opening 3-0 loss to Long Island, Copa has scored 17 goals while allowing only two in their last five games. NJCFC has the league’s leading scorer in two-time East Offensive Player of the Week honoree Krystyna Freda (eight goals, one assist) and have had three defensive players be named East Defensive Player of the Week: goalkeeper Kristyn Shea and defenders Callie Duliba and Nicole Bates.
With two games in two days this weekend and with a 2-2 record, Lancaster has officially reached the crossroads of their 2016 journey in the UWS East. A positive result against New Jersey will keep them in the conference race while buoying their hopes of accomplishing the same on Sunday when they host Long Island. For New Jersey, its a chance to put a East rival behind the eight-ball and possibly out of the title contention.
Houston Aces (2-3-0, 6 pts) at Santa Clarita Blue Heat (1-0-2, 5 pts) @ The Master’s College, Santa Clarita, Calif., 6:00 PM PT
After Santa Clarita’s big win over Houston in the 2016 West opener on May 21st, much was expected out of the Blue Heat side in the West race this season. But since that victory, Santa Clarita’s offense has been frustrated in their last two games, only scoring two goals in draws at home against the Colorado Storm on June 2nd and on the road vs. Real Salt Lake on June 11th. They return home to The Master’s College for Saturday’s game and will hope to take the season series against the Aces.
That looks to be a tougher task now than after the season opener; especially since Houston has now shown signs of life after a solid victory over the Colorado Pride last Sunday. Its been a bit of inconsistent ride this season for the Aces, as they rebounded after their season-opening loss to the Blue Heat with a big 1-0 road win over Real Salt Lake on May 28th. The next week, RSL dropped the hammer on Houston in a 4-1 victory before another up (the win over the Pride) and down (the loss to the Storm) weekend.
The good signs for the Aces are that it looks like they perform better on the road while their Colombian international contingent are also starting to heat up. Tatiana Ariza scored the game-winner last Sunday and was named the West Co-Offensive Player of the Week while Isabella Echeverri Restrepo helped lead the late rally against the Storm on Friday. Saturday’s rematch between the two sides will most definitely be a test for both when it comes to who they are and what they will provide in the conference race the rest of the season.
SUNDAY, JUNE 19
Real Salt Lake Women (1-1-1, 4 pts) at Colorado Storm (1-2-1, 4 pts) @ Sports Authority Field, Parker, Colo. 12:00 PM MT
Speaking of good signs and omens, Storm Head Coach Brian Haynes must be liking the way his team is growing into the season. After two close losses to in-state rivals in the Colorado Pride to start their 2016 campaign, the Storm got a deserved 1-1 draw at Santa Clarita and did even better in last Friday’s 2-1 win over Houston - their first victory. Olivia Blaber was selected West Co-Offensive Player of the Week for her goal-assist performance in the win, the first individual honor for a Storm player this season.
It will be important for the Storm to start this match on the front foot, as Real Salt Lake will be playing less than 48 hours after their match vs. the Pride. And as they showed last Saturday against the Blue Heat, the longer you keep a talented & experienced side like the Real Women in a match, the more they benefit from their opponent’s lack of killer instinct. With veteran leadership in defense and a young & dynamic attack led by the BYU tandem of Elena Medeiros and Michele Vasconcelos, RSL will be a tough task: no matter what happens in their Friday match vs. the Pride.
With a win, the Storm can officially throw their wrench into the works of a side whose mission is to win the inaugural UWS Championship. And they can also toss their cap into the conference race. If the Real Women can conclude their two-game road trip to Colorado with two wins, they will most certainly be a favorite to win the West title. Interesting time of the year, indeed.
Long Island Rough Riders (1-2-1, 4 pts) at Lancaster Inferno (2-2-0, 6pts) @ Pucillo Field, Millersville, Penn. 2:00 PM ET
The only good thing about Sunday’s match for Lancaster is that they’re hosting the match. Other than that, the prospect of facing a rested & athletic Long Island side less than 24 hours after taking on East-leaders New Jersey is a daunting one. Squad depth will be key for the Inferno this weekend, but its not the first time this season that they have faced the Rough Riders on the back end of a weekend double-header.
On Sunday, June 5th, Lancaster took on Long Island at Saint Anthony’s High School and weathered both a first-half onslaught from the Rough Riders offense and torrential downpours in the big 1-0 win. The first half for Long Island featured a lot of missed opportunities as they controlled the ball but only put one of five shots on target and were called for seven offsides (10 in the entire match). The Inferno took over the second half right after the referee’s whistle, as veteran Teresa Rynier scored the game-winner in the 47th minute.
That was the first of two consecutive losses for Long Island after a solid 1-0-1 start to the season, as last Saturday they also won the first half at New England, but again couldn’t duplicate their play in the second frame as the Mutiny came back for the 3-2 victory. The Rough Riders would do well to remedy that habit, as a strong second half performance against a team playing their second game in as many days may lead them to a win. And back into the East title race.
New England Mutiny (3-1-0, 9 pts) at TSF Academy Valkyries (0-2-1, 1 pt) @ DePaul Catholic High School, Wayne, NJ 4:00 PM ET
After two losses to New Jersey to start the season, TSF Academy were hoping for a win last weekend when they faced their old W-League competitor - the New York Magic. But Magic goalkeeper Sam Depken had other thoughts, as she single-handedly kept her team in the game for long enough for New York to get the 1-1 draw vs. the Valkyries. With only two goals in three games, TSF Academy will look to their offense to be on the front foot and break down a New England defense playing their second game of the weekend.
The Mutiny are tied with New Jersey and Long Island with only five goals allowed in UWS East action, but take out their problems on defending set pieces, and that number could be less. That could be an area for the Valkyries to exploit, but its easier said than done especially against New England’s dynamic & talented offensive attack. The Mutiny have held the run of play for most of their 3-1 start to the season. So, a bit more concentration on the small defensive details could prove large for them this weekend.
This will be the first of three matches against the top teams in the East for TSF Academy, as they next face Long Island and Lancaster on the road. The three-game stretch will certainly be a test for the Valkyries as they continue to find their stride in this new national pro-am league.