NWSL Reserve Teams Advance to WPSL and W-League Championships
With the race for the NWSL Playoffs just starting to heat up, three of the league’s reserve teams have a chance to take home championship hardware of their own this weekend as the Chicago Red Stars, Boston Breakers and Washington Spirit reserve squads are all set to feature in national semifinals.
The Red Stars and Breakers reserves are on a collision course to meet in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Championship Final on Sunday, but will first have to overcome their opponents in the semifinals of the 2015 WPSL Final Four National Championships at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Chicago will face Oklahoma City FC on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET before Boston squares off against SoCal FC at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Meanwhile, the Spirit reserves will continue their push for the 2015 W-League Championship, presented by Nike, when they face Quebec Dynamo ARSQ in a semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. ET at Desjardins Stadium in suburban Montreal.
A win will send Washington on to the championship match on Sunday. The Spirit come into the contest as the No. 1 seed in the tournament and as the only undefeated team in the competition with a record of 9-0-3.
In fact, as a testament to the investment and commitment made by all the clubs in the league to identify and develop players – all three NWSL reserve teams still in contention in their respective leagues with undefeated records as Boston and Chicago carry identical 11-0-1 records into the semifinals.
The Red Stars advanced to the final four with a 2-0 victory over Motor City FC in the Midwest regional final and have enjoyed a hugely successful season thanks in large part to the efforts of midfielder Kaitlin Miller and defenders Morgan Proffitt and Jacie Jermier en route to winning Midwest-Central division.
“The team is excited for this opportunity,” Chicago reserve coach Chris King said. “Our franchise has only been in the [WPSL] for two years and this is our second trip to the Final Four. We’re hoping things end a little differently this year, than they did last year [when the Red Stars lost in the semifinals].”
The league’s reserve squads also played an important role for the NWSL this season with so many amateur call ups being necessitated by the absence of many of the league’s internationals during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup that also gave fans an early glimpse of the promising players coming down the road.
Chicago’s reserves have had three players earn call ups to the senior club in the NWSL this season with defender Leigh Jakes as well as midfielders Mary Luba and Kelley McCloskey all seeing time in Rory Dame’s lineup.
The Breakers reserves have seen five players – Che Brown, Paige Burnett, Riley Houle, Sam Lofton and Chanel Johnson called up to Tom Durkin’s senior side – and have benefited from the efforts of defenders Bianca Calderone and Sam Lofton as well as those of midfielder Katie Lenz.
“I thought last year’s team was better overall, but this year’s team blended a little better and they refused to lose,” Boston reserve coach Frankie D’Agostino said. “We had a couple close games that could’ve gone either way, but their mentality helped them win those games. Training day in, day out with the pro team and Tom, playing against top-level players in practice, that helped a lot, and it showed in their play as the season went on.”
Meanwhile, the Spirit reserves will be seeking to avenge their loss in the final last year as they look to an impressive midfielder corps of Meggie Dougherty-Howard, Carson Pickett, Imani Dorsey and Andi Sullivan to help get them over the hump at the tournament near Montreal.Washington’s Jennifer Skogerboe, who was an amateur call up and played in one match with the Spirit’s NWSL team, will be another strong option.
“It’s been a successful season. The team has worked hard all summer to get into this position . We hope our success continues in Canada,” Washington reserve coach Kati Jo Spisak said. “We have a core group of players of forwards Amber Stobbs and Ashley Herndon as well as midfielders Kara Wilson and Maddie Huster returning from last year’s team that played in the W-League Championship game. They have been motivated to lead this group back with a chance to win the title.”
The W-League semifinals and championship will stream live on the W-League YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/uslwleague.