UWS East Conference Week 2 Preview: Lancaster Inferno & the New York Magic kick off 2017 on the road
Opening weekend was an exercise in extremes in the East Conference of United Women’s Soccer (UWS) but the upcoming Week II slate looks to be a more evenly balanced one.
Two New York-based teams will play the second of back-to-back games to open the season while the defending East Conference champions will travel to the site of their lone 2016 regular season loss. A budding rivalry is renewed in western Massachusetts while the New York Magic kick off their 2017 season in western New York.
SATURDAY, MAY 20
Western New York Flash vs. New York Surf
4:00 PM EDT – All-High Stadium (Buffalo, NY)
If opening weekend was any indicator, the rubber match between the Western New York Flash (0-1-1 UWS East) and New York Surf (1-0 UWS East) at All-High Stadium should be a cracking one. Last Sunday afternoon, the two teams meat at Reinhart Field (SUNY Maritime) in the Bronx and went toe-to-toe for 90 minutes. The Flash could not get a positive result in their second match in two days, as the host Surf emerged victorious by a 1-0 score in their franchise home opener via the 14th minute game-winner by forward Megan O’Connor.
The visitors out-shot the home side by a 8-2 margin and held the edge in corner kicks (6-2). Surf goalkeeper Colleen Hickey made seven saves and was aided in her shutout by a trio of strong defensive performances from Madeline Clappin, Faith Daley & Amy Marron. Daley and Marron were selected to the inaugural edition of the UWS Team of the Week for their efforts in the win over Western New York. Flash defender Kaelyn Gamel also made the league honor roll for her game-tying goal on Saturday against Long Island. Her 87th minute header rescued a vital early-season road draw.
This Saturday’s WNY home game will be a doubleheader with FC Buffalo of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The two organizations recently announced an agreement to have FC Buffalo serve as the top of the pyramid for the boys’ side of the WNY Flash Academy. All-High Stadium has a lot of history behind it as it was used in the filming of a key scene in “The Natural” as a stand-in for Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Long Island Rough Riders vs. New Jersey Copa FC
5:00 PM EDT – Saint Anthony’s H.S. (South Huntington, NY)
The defending East Conference champion New Jersey Copa FC (1-0 UWS East) came out of the gates in strong fashion last Saturday, dominating the first-year Rochester Lady Lancers by a 6-0 score at home on a rainy, windy night. On the other side of the spectrum, the Long Island Rough Riders (0-0-1 UWS East) had a tough battle with the Western New York Flash and were snake bit by a late Flash goal in the 1-1 draw. Both teams had players named to the UWS Team of the Week: Katarina Nilsson (two goals) and Jeanine Nunez (goal, assist) for Copa and Long Island midfielder Kimberly Marra for her solid play in the draw vs. WNY.
Long Island will host their second straight match at Saint Anthony’s H.S. to open Summer 2017 but look to replicate their 2016 home result vs. Copa. The Rough Riders hosted the UWS Inaugural Game against NJCFC almost year ago to this date, and netted two first-half goals en route to a 3-0 victory. Christina Bellero scored the first-ever goal in UWS history in the 16th minute and beat goalkeeper Christiana Ogunsami with a low shot inside the corner of goal. Long Island doubled their lead in the 25th minute on a goal from Taylor Elliott and held the run of play until Bellero secured her brace in the 68th minute.
As if the NJCFC offense needed any help after their impressive form in their season opener, the team should have 2016 UWS Player of the Year Krystyna Freda available for selection in Saturday’s match. Freda returns to Copa after her professional stint with Apollon Ladies FC of the Cypriot First Division. Her 15 goals and three assists (33 points) for the East Conference champions last season won the UWS scoring race by a tidy margin and after the conclusion of the season, she went on trial with the eventual NWSL champion Western New York Flash.
New England Mutiny vs. Lancaster Inferno
7:00 PM EDT – East Longmeadow H.S. (East Longmeadow, MA)
Last season, the New England Mutiny (1-0 UWS East) and Lancaster Inferno split their home-and-home series. Each team won on the road and this year’s return trip to western Massachusetts for Lancaster brings back memories of the Inferno’s 1-0 victory last Saturday, May 22nd. In a tight match that saw both sides battle it out for the full 90 minutes, a well-orchestrated free kick decided the match. As the first half was to conclude, Costa Rican international Carol Sanchez’s game-winning volley gave the visitors the win over the Mutiny.
This will be the first game of 2017 for Lancaster and they have Head Coach Francisco Cleaves to rely on, who is back for his fourth season on the bench. The Inferno aim to better their 4-5-1 record from 2016 and five key players have returned to the team: defenders Alex Plantive, Ashley Chilcoat & Bailey Corbin and midfielders Trisha Clark & Kara Weller. This will be the first of a tough three-game road trip to start the season, as after Saturday’s game Lancaster will travel to the New York Magic (Sat., 5/27) and New Jersey Copa FC (Sat., 6/3) before their home opener against the New York Surf (Sun., 6/4).
The strong performance out of the gate by the attacking trio of forwards Abby Sotomayor & Kate Howarth and midfielder Riley Houle should bode well for the New England offense in this match. Sotomayor (goal, two assists) assisted on the first two goals of the match that were scored by Howarth, while Houle (goal, assist) had an especially strong day working in the playmaking role. All three players were named to the UWS Team of the Week for their performances.
SUNDAY, MAY 21
Rochester Lady Lancers vs. New York Magic
1:00 PM EDT – Wegmans Sports Complex (Rochester, NY)
The Rochester Lady Lancers (0-2 UWS East) had a somewhat rude welcome to the pro-am level of play on opening weekend, dropping tough losses on the road to two of the conference’s best – New Jersey Copa FC and the New England Mutiny. What Rochester did manage was the franchise’s first-ever goal in the match against New England, as forward Ally Sharpe netted their lone tally in the 68th minute of the 5-1 loss. The Lady Lancers host the New York Magic on Sunday in the first match of a doubleheader with the Lancers’ men side who will face the Dayton Dynamo in a NPSL East Conference tilt.
The Magic are looking to a rebuild after a lackluster 2016 season. First part of the rebuilding effort is the addition of veteran forward Mami Yamaguchi, the 2007 MAC Hermann Trophy winner from Florida State University. Yamaguchi led the Seminoles to the NCAA National Championship for the first time in school history as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. Mami made 18 appearances for the Japanese Women’s National Team, scoring eight goals. Another new member of the team is Canadian goalkeeper Sierra Bonham, a two-time Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year from North Dakota State University.