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UWS Preview: Week IX

07/05/2019, 2:00pm EDT
By UWS PR

Final weekend of regular season; playoff positioning is paramount

UWS EAST CONFERENCE

Friday, July 5

Connecticut Fusion (6-0-2) vs. New Jersey Copa FC (1-7-0)
7:00 PM EDT | Farmington Sports Arena | MyCujoo

The Connecticut Fusion will close out the regular season portion of their 2019 UWS East schedule with two matches over a four-day period. First up is the second match of a back-to-back with New Jersey Copa FC at home. Connecticut rolled to a 3-1 victory over New Jersey last Saturday and Maegen Doyle led the way for the Fusion with a two-goal performance while Tori Sousa added a goal. The Fusion dominated possession and got on the board in the 27th minute when Doyle received a square ball on the edge of the area and curled her effort past goalkeeper Andrea Leitner. The match came to a halt just three minutes later due to stormy weather in the area, forcing a 45-minute delay. Doyle added her second of the day in the 49th minute when she pounced on a loose clearance and then Sousa added a third for the Fusion just twenty minutes later. New Jersey got a consolation goal in the 76th minute when a Connecticut defender inadvertently turned a cross into her own net.

Saturday, July 6

Long Island Rough Riders (4-5-0) vs. Syracuse DA (4-3-2)
4:30 PM EDT | Hofstra University | MyCujoo

In what should be the fiercest battle of the weekend, Syracuse (14 points) and Long Island (12 points) will face each other for the opportunity of qualifying for the UWS East playoffs as the fourth-place finisher. SDA has the edge for the final spot as they only need a draw in this match. The Rough Riders must win or the 2017 East Conference champions will once again be out of the postseason picture for the second start season. Long Island had the edge over Syracuse for fourth-place going into their prior match last Saturday when the two teams played each other. Yet, a four-goal first half performance from SDA propelled them to a comprehensive 5-0 win that vaulted them over the Rough Riders in the standings. The hosts opened the scoring in the eighth minute of play with the first of two consecutive goals by Alex Fontana. She added another just five minutes later from twenty yards out. Taylor Bennett put Syracuse up by a 3-0 score in the 22nd minute on a back post header from a corner kick by Caroline Kopp and the rout was on. Long Island will look for revenge in both teams' regular season finale.

Lancaster Inferno (6-2-0) vs. New England Mutiny (7-0-2)
5:00 PM EDT | Millersville University | MyCujoo

The top three teams in the UWS East (in current order: New England, Connecticut and Lancaster) have already qualified for the four-team playoffs set to start the weekend of July 12-14. What is left to battle for are the final placements of these three teams and that is very important as the top two sides will host the East Semifinals. One of those three teams - who all have had strong regular seasons - will have to travel for their first playoff game. The Mutiny are currently in the lead and after last Friday night's 2-1 home win over the Inferno, hold an early advantage in the tiebreak procedure against them. Hope Santaniello potted the game-winner in the 78th minute that propelled New England to victory. A draw in the rubber match of the season series on the road on Saturday will guarantee the Mutiny a home playoff game. If Lancaster wins their final two matches this weekend, they will vault over New England for a home playoff game. Connecticut also has two games remaining in the regular season and need maximum points for top positioning.

New Jersey Copa FC (1-7-0) vs. Rochester Lancers (2-4-2)
6:00 PM EDT | St John Vianney H.S. | MyCujoo

New Jersey Copa FC were the gold standard of the UWS East in their first two seasons, reaching the National Final in 2016 (only to lose in overtime) and were the regular season conference champions in 2017. However, since that time New Jersey has steadily slipped down the pecking order in the conference, compiling a 3-6-1 record last year. This season, Copa are only sitting above Worcester, who anchor the bottom of the conference with a winless record. If they defeat Connecticut on Friday night, New Jersey will have shot at jumping over Rochester in the final standings if they beat the Lancers in their home finale. But that scenario may only be a fleeting one as Rochester plays Lancaster on Sunday, and if they are victorious in that match, Copa will fall back down into a seventh-place finish. Defense has not a major issue for New Jersey this season - 14 goals allowed in eight matches going into Friday night's contest against the Fusion - but the offense has dried up. Goal scoring has been an issue for the club (six goals scored) and they had a four-match scoreless skid in the mid-portion of the season.

Sunday, July 7

Lancaster Inferno (6-2-0) vs. Rochester Lancers (2-4-2)
5:00 PM EDT | Millersville University | MyCujoo

The Lancaster Inferno are in the midst of a hunt for a home East Semifinal playoff game and are in store for a hot and humid weekend to boot. While its good that Lancaster has two home games to finish the regular season, the Inferno will be greeted by high temperatures and humidity as they face back-to-back contests: first, against an old adversary in the New England Mutiny; and second, what is most definitely a trap game the next day against a resolute Rochester side. The Lancers can play spoilers this Sunday, as they are narrowly out of the postseason picture in the East Conference. Lancaster needs two wins this weekend to guarantee a home playoff game and Rochester will have motivation to upend their postseason plans. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season but they have faced off twice over the past two campaigns. The Inferno have a 2-0 all-time record against the Lancers, winning on the road by a 3-1 score last year and were victorious at home by a 4-2 score in 2017. Haley Crawford has been the biggest thorn in Rochester's side, as she has scored five of Lancaster's seven goals against them.

Monday, July 8

Worcester Smiles (0-9-0) vs. Connecticut Fusion (6-0-2)
7:00 PM EDT | Foley Stadium | MyCujoo

This will the third all-time meeting between the Worcester Smiles and the Connecticut Fusion and the second of the 2019 season. On June 21st, Connecticut utilized a two-goal, two-assist performance from Tori Sousa to power past Worcester by a 6-0 score at home. Maegen Doyle and Chanel Johnson had a goal and an assist each, Vivien Beil and Kylee McIntosh both scored while Marieke Kramer and Molly Socha each added an assist. The six-goal output set a new franchise single-game record, besting the 5-0 victory that the Fusion had over the Smiles back on July 15th, 2018. On that day, Madison Stabile had two goals while Johnson, Sousa and Kelly Quigley each had a goal. Similar to that game last year, this matchup will also be the season finale for both teams. It is also the final regular season game in the conference. Connecticut is in the midst of a final push for the UWS East playoffs and will be looking to sweep the season series to help guarantee a Semifinal at home.

UWS MIDWEST CONFERENCE

Sunday, July 7

Lansing United (8-0-1) vs. Michigan Legends (2-5-2)
4:00 PM EDT | East Lansing Soccer Complex | MyCujoo

Lansing United have already clinched first-place in the UWS Midwest and will host a Semifinal match on Thursday, July 11th (7:00 PM) against the fourth-place side. This is the second-straight regular season title for Lansing as they won it in 2018 but were ousted in the Midwest playoffs by Grands Rapids FC. As the top seed in this year's conference playoffs, Lansing will also host the Midwest Final on Sunday July 14th (4:00 PM) - if they are victorious in the semifinals. Both games will take place at the East Lansing Soccer Complex. All that is left for United to do is finish out their 2019 campaign on a positive note, yet, the Michigan Legends will be looking to spoil their end-of-regular-season party. Michigan still has a shot at qualifying for the four-team playoffs and will need to win on Sunday to do so. The Legends (eight points) are in fifth-place behind the Detroit Sun (nine points) and Grand Rapids (11 points). A win on Michigan's part combined with a draw/loss by Detroit will vault them into the postseason. A draw does the Legends no good since a tie in the final standings with the Sun will push them out as Detroit won the season series between them.

Detroit Sun (3-6-0) vs. Grand Rapids FC (3-4-2)
6:00 PM EDT | Ultimate Indoor Soccer | MyCujoo

Two of the primary contenders for the Midwest crown over its three-year existence will face off on Sunday. What happens earlier in the afternoon in the Lansing United/Michigan Legends match will either make this a glorified postseason tuneup match or a final battle for the last Midwest playoff spot. Grand Rapids FC have already qualified for the postseason. Lansing and the Indiana Union are set in first and second-place, respectively, so Sunday's game for GRFC is only a matter of if they will finish in third or fourth-place (which will be the case if Detroit wins) and where they will travel for their Semifinal. If Michigan is victorious over Lansing, the Sun will need to win their home finale to qualify for the Midwest playoffs. In their first matchup this campaign, Grand Rapids was victorious over Detroit by a 5-3 score on June 8th. It was one of the best team efforts in attack this year, as GRFC were powered by five different goal scorers. Sunday's game may be another scoring festival as both teams have had a poor season defensively, giving up a combined 45 goals in 18 matches.

UWS SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE

Saturday, July 6

FC Austin Elite (2-3-0) vs. San Antonio Athenians (3-2-0)
7:30 CST | Bold Stadium | MyCujoo

The Houston Aces (6-0-0) clinched the UWS Southwest regular season title last weekend when they defeated the San Antonio Athenians by a 5-2 score. Houston now awaits who they will face in a UWS National Quarterfinal next weekend as they will face a Wild Card team to be determined by the league's Competition Committee. The winner of that match will qualify for the UWS National Championship (July 19-21). All is not lost for either side in this match, as FC Austin Elite and San Antonio will battle it out not only for second-place in the conference but will also put their hand in for Wild Card qualification. The two old adversaries will battle it out at Bold Stadium - the home pitch for Austin Bold FC, who are part of the USL (United Soccer League) Championship. The 5,036-seat soccer-specific stadium is located adjacent to the Grand Plaza at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), the premier destination for entertainment and motorsports in the United States. Earlier this season on June 8th, the Athenians were victorious over FC Austin by a 3-2 score in front of a home crowd of 1,000-plus. It was a wild match as the Elite's Kimberlin Palacios tied the score at 2-2 in the 90th minute only for Allison Fahey to win it with the last shot of the game.

UWS WEST CONFERENCE

Friday, July 5

Queen City United (1-6-0) vs. Colorado Pride (0-6-0)
7:00 PM CST | University of Regina | MyCujoo

The Colorado Pride are the only UWS West team who have two regular season games remaining and they can do themselves a world of good this weekend as they travel north of the border for two games against Canadian competition. If Colorado comes away with maximum points, the Pride will not only have leapt over Queen City United into fourth-place in the final conference standings but they will have put a major chink in Calgary Foothills WFC's armor, who are undefeated and vying for a second-straight West title. But first up for Colorado is the second game of a back-to-back series against Queen City. The Pride hosted United last Saturday in Colorado Springs and lost to the first-year side by a 2-1 score. Colorado scored early but two first half goals by Queen City were enough to notch their first-ever win for the franchise. Two minutes into the match, the Pride's Alyssa Totzke sent a through ball to Jaden Davis and she finished past QCU goalkeeper Brynn Nash for the early lead. Yet, goals from first half goals from Hannah Gannitsos-Clark and Kalli Cowles propelled the visitors ahead and they did not relinquish the lead.

Saturday, July 6

Santa Clarita Blue Heat (5-2-0) vs. LA Galaxy OC (5-1-1)
6:00 PM PDT | Master's University | MyCujoo

Its a do-or-die game for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat on Saturday as they host their budding local rivals LA Galaxy OC. Since winning the inaugural UWS Championship in 2016, Santa Clarita has been on the outside looking in for a title since that time: losing the 2017 National Final to Grand Rapids FC while Calgary nabbed the UWS West crown (and the automatic berth into the UWS Championship) in 2018. The Blue Heat (15 points) need to win the rubber match of the season series with LA (16 points) to remain in the hunt for the West title. A draw will keep them in consideration for Wild Card qualification. The hosts will have plenty of inspiration for a victory against their visitors as Santa Clarita suffered one of their worst-ever defeats to LAGOC on May 19th. The game was the season opener for both teams and Galaxy OC was ready and waiting for a win. Four different goal scorers led them a 4-0 victory at home over the Blue Heat. The loss matched the worst score line in a loss for Santa Clarita during their UWS tenure, as they dropped a similar verdict in 2018.

Sunday, July 7

Calgary Foothills WFC (5-1-1) vs. Colorado Pride (0-6-0)
2:00 PM MDT | Mount Royal University | MyCujoo

Calgary Foothills WFC have destiny in their control as a win this Sunday against the Colorado Pride will give the team their second consecutive UWS West Conference title. After a hard fought 1-1 draw on the road against LA Galaxy OC last Sunday, Calgary's home finale against Colorado is the final obstacle to equal or go beyond their success in 2018. Foothills WFC qualified for the UWS Championship last summer but fell in the National Semifinal to the Houston Aces by a 3-1 score. Houston went on to capture the UWS crown. Head Coach Troye Flannery knows that while Colorado is winless going into the weekend, the wrong thing to do would become complacent and assume a victory over the Pride. It will need to be business as usual. In the earlier matchup between these two teams this campaign, Calgary did just that and rode away with a solid 2-0 road win on June 22nd. Alex Lamontagne and Tanya Boychuk scored first half goals in the victory. Foothills WFC will know what kind of result they need on Sunday since their top two competitors - LA and Santa Clarita - face off on Saturday. If those teams draw, Calgary will than only need a draw to win the West as they hold the tiebreak advantage over LAGOC.

Tag(s): News  Connecticut Fusion  Lancaster Inferno  LI Rough Riders  New England Mutiny  New Jersey Copa FC  Rochester Lancers  Worcester Smiles  Detroit Sun  Grand Rapids FC  Lansing United  Michigan Legends  FC Austin Elite  San Antonio Athenians  Calgary Foothills  Colorado Pride  LA Galaxy  Santa Clarita Blue Heat  Queen City United  Syracuse DA