UWS EAST CONFERENCE WEEKEND PREVIEW: Both TSF Academy and Lancaster open their 2016 seasons this weekend at home
Now that the first weekend of the 2016 season in the East Conference of United Women’s Soccer (UWS) has concluded, the speed of play will pick up as a full slate of games await this weekend.
The race for the conference crown could already leave one team behind the proverbial eight-ball after the conclusion of the weekend’s fixtures while two teams will kick off their seasons. Check out our full preview below for the topical information related to all three games played in the UWS East this Saturday and Sunday.
SATURDAY, MAY 21
TSF Academy Valkyries vs. New Jersey Copa F.C. (5:00 PM)
Venue: DePaul Catholic High School
1512 Alps Road
Wayne, NJ 07470
The TSF Academy Valkyries kick off their Summer 2016 season at home this Saturday, May 21st, as they host New Jersey Copa F.C. (0-1) at DePaul Catholic High School. New Jersey already got their feet wet last weekend, as they traveled to Long Island for the UWS Inaugural Game against the Rough Riders. Unfortunately for them, Long Island were quite unaccommodating hosts and kept the NJCFC offense off the score sheet in a 3-0 win for the Rough Riders.
The Valkyries look to have a solid defense this year, as they have Seton Hall defender Catherine Chukuka, goalkeeper Tiffany Martinez of the No. 3 NJCAA nationally-ranked Monroe College Mustangs, former University of Buffalo defender & team veteran Jen Mihok and Syracuse University defender Alana O’Neill to rely upon. Combined with the return of team captain Jen Andresen in midfield, the Copa offense looks to have their hands full before they can notch their first UWS goal.
Andresen is delighted to kick off the season with her TSF teammates, especially after the uncertainty the organization faced when the W-League folded last November.
“When news came out about changes in the league and a possibility there may not be a place for this team to play, I almost had a heart attack!,” said Andresen. “I was so pleased to hear about the formation of the UWS and I cannot wait to step onto the field for the first time this weekend.”
Never mind the Valkyries defense, as NJCFC will also have to deal with a potentially potent attack from the host side. North Carolina State forward Gladys Loyas and former Rutgers University forward Stefanie Scholz look to lead the attack in the TSF opener. The Valkyries are hoping for a bumper crowd at DePaul Catholic H.S. this Saturday and have offered free admission to all fans attending as a special introduction to their new beginning in the UWS East.
“The Valkyries are excited not only to be part of this league, but also to be able to see a continued growth in women’s soccer in this country,” said Head Coach and General Manager Mark White. “TSF Academy prides itself on its player development pathway, and we are extremely happy to be able to offer a place for collegiate and high-level soccer players to continue to train and play in a strong, competitive environment.”
SUNDAY, MAY 22
New Jersey Copa F.C. vs. Long Island Rough Riders (4:30 PM)
Venue: Mercer County Community College
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor Township, NJ 08550
New Jersey will have a short turnaround after their match at the TSF Academy Valkyries for their own home opener on Sunday, May 22nd at Mercer County Community College. Copa will face the Long Island Rough Riders (1-0) in the rubber match of their season series with hopefully a win or draw in their pocket from the day before. If not, another loss to the Rough Riders will quickly put the first-year team behind in the UWS East race, which looks to be a hard one this season with a lot of well-balanced teams.
Last weekend, Long Island’s Christina Bellero would score the first-ever goal in UWS history in the 16th minute of the match that would prove to be the eventual game-winner. Taylor Elliott would net the second goal of the night in the 25th minute while Bellero would put the match away in the second half with her second tally of the night. Bellero would receive UWS East Offensive Player of the Week honors for her effort.
But the NJCFC offense has a chance to get on the board in their second weekend of UWS action, especially with the likes of forward Krystyna Freda around. Freda would net 10 goals in 14 games for Merilappi United of the fully-professional Naisten Liga in Finland, so the former Winthrop University knows how to locate the back of the net. Her ambitions to reach the next level will hopefully bode well for Copa this weekend.
“My dream is to someday play in the National Women’s Soccer League and I am excited to showcase my talents in UWS,” said Freda. “The challenge of playing at this level is going to help me take my game to the next.”
For President, Founder and Executive Director of F.C. Copa Roberto Aguas, the anticipation of both his UWS and NPSL teams kicking off their 2016 home schedules in Sunday’s men’s and women’s doubleheader is hard to contain.
“We cannot wait to share in the buzz and excitement with our players in Mercer County when we make history on May 22nd and all season long!,” said Aguas.
Lancaster Inferno vs. New England Mutiny (5:00 PM)
Venue: Pucillo Field
1 North George Street
Millersville, PA 17551
The Lancaster Inferno open their UWS East campaign on Sunday, as they host the New England Mutiny (1-0) at Millersville University’s Pucillo Field. The Mutiny already kicked off their season last Saturday, as they were led by team captain Kate Howarth’s two goals and defeated old rival New York Magic at home by a 3-0 score. Yet, the Inferno and Mutiny have become rivals as well, especially after they were adversaries last year in the Power 5 Division of the WPSL.
New England would be victorious in both encounters, outscoring Lancaster by a 6-1 margin. But both games were closer than they were on the score sheet and the Inferno have upped the ante this year as they have added strong talent to their squad. Costa Rican international Carol Sanchez, Guatemalan international Coralia Monterroso and Argentinian forward Laila Espamer have joined the team while returnees like midfielder Teresa Rynier give the hosts of this match an added edge this season.
“I believe that all the hard work we’ve put into the team the last two years and the high quality of players made us a great candidate [for UWS],” said Inferno President and Head Coach Francisco Cleaves. “In addition, this league more closely aligns with our goal to offer the best pro-am soccer in our area.”
What Lancaster can bring to the pitch this year has not been lost on Mutiny Head Coach Joe Abele and he is well aware of the danger the Inferno can propose. Combined with Lancaster’s talented new goalkeeper Emily Armstrong of the University of Connecticut on board, Abele does not take anything lightly with his team’s opponent this Sunday – or on any gameday, for that matter.
“Its quite simple,” said Abele, who has the return of veteran midfielder Kacey Richards to his team to count on this Sunday. “Our philosophy is we go into every game with the team we’re about to play being better than us and we have everything to prove. We have to prove that we deserve to be there. That’s how we approach each game.”