METUCHEN, NJ - Behind the scenes, United Women's Soccer (UWS) is finalizing the conference alignments and league schedule for the Summer 2018 season. Correspondingly, UWS member teams are beginning to announce preliminary roster signings as they begin to warm up operations for another season in the national pro-am league. The 2017 UWS Finalist Santa Clarita Blue Heat, 2017 UWS Semifinalist Detroit Sun FC and two-time East Conference regular season champion New Jersey Copa FC have all recently released their first commitments for the 2018 season.
SANTA CLARITA SIGNS SEVEN... the Blue Heat came one result shy of back-to-back UWS championships last summer, losing for the first time all season in double overtime to Grand Rapids FC Women in the National Final in Grandville, MI. Santa Clarita has brought in a mix of veteran leadership and new blood for the 2018 campaign in the UWS West, signing seven players: midfielder Julia Amador Mejias, goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, midfielder Hayley Gonzales, forward Kassi Massey, forward Evdokia Popadinova, midfielder Diana Redman and defender Lauren Sesselmann.
Amador Mejias was named to the 2017 NAIA Women's Soccer All-America Team for Missouri Valley College last fall, leading the team in scoring (10g, 6a, 26pts) as a senior. Brzykcy - a freshman at UCLA - was a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team and earned NSCAA High School All-American and All-Region honors in 2016 and 2017. Gonzales was a GSAC Player of the Week winner in her senior season for the Vanguard Lions (NAIA). Massey returns to the Blue Heat from the 2016 UWS champions as the veteran forward was selected to the All-UWS Team that year.
Popadinova played for Detroit last summer and was named to the 2017 All-UWS Championship Team for her efforts in the 3-0 loss to Santa Clarita in the National Semifinal. Redman is another returnee from the 2016 UWS champion side, as the Israel Women's National Team member took the 2017 Blue Heat season off to have a child. Sesselmann continues her storied soccer career in 2018, as the former Canadian international starred on the Santa Clarita backline as a All-UWS selection last summer.
DETROIT DECLARES INTENT... Detroit Sun FC were also one result from a title last season, as the first-year organization lost by a tight 1-0 score to eventual UWS champion Grand Rapids in the 2017 Midwest Conference final. Head Coach Skipper Mukhtar has designated his team's mission to win the conference championship in 2018 and he has brought back the core of his side from last season alongside a pair of newcomers. Returning to Detroit are defender Rachel Deluca, midfielder Dani Evans, defender Jackie Mazzara and forward Madison Schupbach while midfielder Bri Rogers and defender Cecilia Steinwascher will suit up in Sun colors for the first time.
Deluca is the 2017 MSA State Cup MVP and a 2016 Horizon League First Team selection and Defender of the Year for the University of Detroit Mercy Titans. Evans was a 2017 All-UWS Second Team and All-Midwest Conference First Team honoree last summer for Detroit. Mazzara was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and team captain at the University of Michigan and a former member of the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team. Schupbach was also a 2017 All-UWS Second Team and All-Midwest Conference First Team honoree last season. The Bowling Green star led the Sun in scoring (9g, 4a, 22pts) in 2017.
The two newcomers bring a lot to the table as Rogers was a 2017 D2CCA All-Midwest Second Team and United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Second Team selection for the Ferris State Bulldogs last fall. Steinwascher was a 2017 D2CCA First Team All-American and All-GLIAC Second Team for Grand Valley State University and had seven assists as a defender.
THREE NEW JERSEY STARS RENEW... New Jersey Copa FC won its second straight UWS East regular season title in 2017 but in a turn of fate, lost their first-ever home game to Long Island in the conference final that sent the Rough Riders to the four-team National Championship. Head Coach Roberto Aguas will have three of his regulars to rely on this upcoming season as midfielder Camille Bowen, midfielder Jackie Bruno and forward Jeanine Nunez have returned to Copa for the 2018 campaign. This will be the third season in New Jersey colors for all three players.
Bowen has been a regular starter for NJCFC throughout her time with the team and earned Player of the Match multiple times in 2017. Camille scored 14 career goals and tallied eight assists in her four-year career at Marist College. Nunez played over 700 minutes for Copa in 2017 and was named to the All-East Conference Team (6g, 2a). Jeanine wrapped up her Adelphi University career in impressive fashion last fall as she was awarded United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-American and All-Region First Team honors. Bruno captained last season's side and returns as a 2017 All-UWS and All-East Conference First Team selection. Jackie gutted out a nagging ankle injury last summer to lead New Jersey to the East regular season title.
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.
Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at UWSPress@gmail.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara, Jr. by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.