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2016 UWS East Conference Year In Review

07/29/2016, 1:30pm EDT
By Admin

Copa forward Freda had the whole East in her hands this year

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - In contrast to the dramatic conclusion of the title race in the West Conference of United Women’s Soccer (UWS), the East Conference saw a team shake off an early season setback to make an impressive run for the championship this season. New Jersey Copa F.C. (8-1-1) will look to continue that momentum on Saturday when they travel to face West champion Santa Clarita Blue Heat (4-1-3) in the league’s inaugural final. For the rest of the UWS East - which includes some long-time successful organizations - they will have to look back on their respective on-the-field performances from 2016 and build themselves back up for 2017.

New Jersey started their first-ever season at the pro-am level against the Long Island Rough Riders, who hosted the inaugural UWS match (5/14). The Rough Riders looked every bit a team that has been in operation since the early 90’s, taking the 3-0 win over Copa. NJCFC would win their next match over the TSF Academy Valkyries but than had to hold on for a 1-1 draw vs. Long Island at home. Now at 1-1-1, UWS East Coach of the Year Roberto Aguas put his team into high gear and they took off from there. Copa won their next three matches by a 12-0 margin over New York (5/29), TSF Academy (6/4) and Lancaster (6/11) and finished their East slate with seven straight victories.

A big part of New Jersey’s success was the dominant form of forward Krystyna Freda. She translated her goal-scoring prowess from her stints in the collegiate and professional ranks to the pro-am ranks. By the end of the season, Freda had been awarded UWS East Player of the Week three times and had taken the UWS scoring race (15 goals, three assist, 33 points) for herself. For that, the Somerset, NJ-native was named the conference Player of the Year. But in a mark of how complete a team Copa was, four teammates would join Freda on the 2016 All-East Team. And now, NJCFC is one win away from claiming the league title.

The New England Mutiny (6-4) played a major part in the organization & development of UWS, and looked to duplicate their 17 years of success in the new national pro-am league. Their season started well, as they defeated old rival New York Magic by a 3-0 score in front of a capacity home crowd. A tough 3-2 road win over Lancaster (5/22) foreshadowed their first loss in the home rematch vs. the Inferno (6/4). From there, they went 2-2 in their next four games and issues on set-piece defending began to plague the team. And in their two opportunities to catch up to Copa, the Mutiny would lose both encounters against them by a goal.

But one result that truly foretold New England’s fate was their 3-1 loss to TSF Academy on June 19th. After scoring the first goal, the Mutiny were overrun by the Valkyries, allowing three unanswered tallies to what was at that time a low-scoring team. But even though team defense was an issue this year, the individual talent the East runner-ups possessed was recognized by the league. Defenders Allyson Swaby and Jennifer Cafferky were named All-East and that bodes well for their defense in 2017. Team veterans Kate Howarth (second in scoring in UWS) and Stephanie Santos would also receive conference honors. New England finished third in UWS scoring (21 goals).

The Long Island Rough Riders (4-3-3) had the best success against the East champions of all the teams in the conference, going 1-0-1 against NJCFC. But it was their old W-League rivals in the Mutiny that proved to the thorn in their side this season. They lost both games to New England which would cement their third-place finish. Long Island had the second best defense in all of UWS this year (10 goals allowed) but couldn’t muster enough consistency in attack (+6 goal differential). Forward Christina Bellero would be selected to the All-East Team for her efforts, but it was a pair of veteran defenders - conference Defensive Player of the Year Kelly Eagan & Sue Alber - who were named to the First Team.

The improvement from their 2015 WPSL season to the 2016 UWS East campaign was tangible for the Lancaster Inferno (4-5-1), it was just simply a matter of not putting enough positive results in a row for the fourth-place side. After losing their home opener to the Mutiny, Lancaster started June with a strong weekend of two 1-0 wins over New England and Long Island. But the Inferno would than lose their next three games. Wins over New York (6/25) and TSF Academy (7/9) picked them back up again but a 0-1-1 finish to 2016 dropped them back down. Two players would be honored by the league office, as Costa Rican international Carol Sanchez made the All-East First Team while Trisha Clark was an Honorable Mention selection.

The TSF Academy Valkyries (3-4-3) can certainly look at themselves with a measure of pride, especially after the way 2016 ended. TSF could only manage one win in their first six games - a strong effort vs. East contender New England that saw midfielder Nickolette Driesse be named conference Offensive Player of the Week - but went on a solid 2-1-1 run (2-0-1 at home) to complete their slate. The play of midfielder Alana O’Neill would be recognized as she was named to the All-East First Team while teammate Jen Andresen was awarded Honorable Mention honors.

The New York Magic (0-8-2) - another long-standing women’s soccer organization - were the lone team in UWS to not notch a victory. New York scored the second-fewest goals in the league (11 in 10 games) but allowed the most (34) which spelled their doom in last-place. But that was not the fault of Magic goalkeeper Samantha Depken, a veteran leader for the team who ended the season making the most saves (67) in UWS and would be named UWS East Defensive Player of the Week two times. She would receive an All-East Team accolade for her resoluteness in goal. Shani Abrahams would finish the year tied in fifth place in the league in goals scored (5).

EAST CONFERENCE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Week 1:
Christina Bellero - Long Island Rough Riders (Offensive)
Cailynn Harding - New England Mutiny (Defensive)
Week 2:
Kate Howarth - New England Mutiny (Offensive)
Kristyn Shea - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Defensive)
Week 3:
Krystyna Freda - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Offensive)
Callie Duliba - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Defensive)
Week 4:
Teresa Rynier - Lancaster Inferno (Offensive)
Carol Sanchez - Lancaster Inferno (Defensive)
Week 5:
Krystyna Freda - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Offensive)
Samantha Depken - New York Magic (Defensive)
Nicole Bates - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Defensive)
Week 6:
Nickolette Driesse - TSF Academy Valkyries (Offensive)
Melissa Guglielmo - Long Island Rough Riders (Defensive)
Week 7:
Jeanine Nunez - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Offensive)
Alexandra Plantive - Lancaster Inferno (Defensive)
Week 8:
NO WEEKLY AWARD
Week 9:
Krystyna Freda - New Jersey Copa F.C. (Offensive)
Jennifer Cafferky - New England Mutiny (Defensive)
Week 10:
Christina Bellero - Long Island Rough Riders (Offensive)
Erin Neville - Long Island Rough Riders (Defensive)
Week 11:
Kate Howarth - New England Mutiny (Offensive)
Samantha Depken - New York Magic (Defensive)

About United Women’s Soccer (UWS): UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

UWS is managed by EDP, a leading soccer management company that runs a number of leagues and tournaments. In addition to UWS, EDP operates youth leagues that includes an NPL league, the EDP Super Club program, the EDP Premier League and the EDP Championship League. EDP also runs EDP Futures programs for U-7’s to U-12’s and it conducts more than 20 youth tournaments, including tournaments within its EDP Cup Series and EDP Showcase Series.

Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at Press@UWSSoccer.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.

Tag(s): News  New Jersey Copa FC  New England Mutiny  LI Rough Riders  New York Magic  TSF Academy  Lancaster Inferno