SATURDAY, JULY 7
Rochester Lady Lancers vs. Inferno Rush
2:00 PM EDT – Marina Auto Stadium (Rochester, NY)
Rochester will hope that this week yields them a better fortune than their outing in Week VIII, as they were sitting at the top of the table when they started last weeks’ action, but are now outside of the playoff positions in the East entering Week IX. The Lady Lancers fell 2-1 to Western New York Flash at the Marina Auto Stadium last Saturday, a venue that has not given them a whole lot of success as Sal Galvano’s team are 1-2-1 in their four home matches and now sit in third place in the standings. Creating chances wasn’t necessarily an issue for Rochester last week as they forced Flash goalkeeper Emily Kelly into making 11 saves. They just need to be more clinical in front of goal as they face off against one of the best defensive units in UWS. Knowing that a loss this week could knock them out of making the East Championship game, expect the hosts to come out firing from the start.
Week VIII was a big week for Inferno Rush as they took home six points from a possible six and moved up to the top of the East Conference Standings. Francisco Cleaves’ team had to battle a very tough New Jersey Copa FC team on a very hot and humid Saturday afternoon last week but came away with an important 2-0 victory, sweeping the season series in the process against their Garden State rivals. And then the day after, the goals finally started to fly in as they put seven past Worcester. Which is how it’s come to be that Inferno currently control their own destiny as if they win their final three games, they will secure the top spot in the East and host the Conference Championship game. Their defensive unit has been tough to break down all season long, allowing just six goals in seven games and have had two different players named as the UWS Defensive Player of the Week, including Ashley Chilcoat for Week VIII. This will be the first of their two matches on the weekend and knowing that their opponents will be hunting a result to keep their postseason hopes alive, Inferno will need their defensive form to stay strong in order to leave Rochester with points.
New Jersey Copa FC vs. New England Mutiny
4:30 PM EDT – Mercer County Community College (West Windsor, NJ)
Both New Jersey and New England come into Week IX knowing that a lot has to go right for them in order to still be in playoff contention next weekend. But first things first, a win for either team is a must. It hasn’t been an easy last few weeks for New Jersey as they have won just one match in their last four, including getting swept by Inferno Rush. Goal scoring has been very inconsistent this season as at times, they’ve piled on the goals, including getting four against Western New York on June 16 and three against Long Island on June 27. But they’ve also been shut out twice in their last three matches and have been held to a single goal three times this season, which is quite the reversal from a season ago when NJCFC averaged nearly two-and-a-half goals per game in 2017. But they can only focus on the future and try to go get a result this week against a struggling New England team.
The Mutiny yet again fell to surrendering points late on as after a valiant comeback to erase an early two-goal deficit, they allowed an 88th minute tally on the road to Long Island to lose 3-2. Similar to their opponent this week, New England have to win their final two matches of the season and get help elsewhere if they want to make the East Conference Championship game. Getting goals from the key scorers has been a positive for the Mutiny this year as no matter how tightly Kate Howarth and Sydney Brackett have been marked this season, they both still find ways to get on the scoresheet. Howarth has bagged goals in four of the last five games while her front-running partner Brackett has scored in three of the last five. And even their defensive record hasn’t been all that bad, allowing the third fewest goals (13) in the East. But a case of the second half blues have been the killer all season long and they will hope to reverse that trend in order to keep their postseason hopes alive next weekend.
Long Island Rough Riders vs. Worcester Smiles
5:00 PM EDT – Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
Timing can be both a curse and a blessing and right now, timing is a beautiful thing for Long Island. Sure, their 3-3-2 record and mid-table ranking won’t be raising many eyeballs, but the schedule to close out the season has worked in their favor. They host Worcester this week before closing out the season at Inferno Rush and if they can win out, along with getting a little help elsewhere during this weeks’ action, could possibly put them back in the East Conference Championship Game, which they won last year by defeating New Jersey Copa FC. Last weekend, they got a late goal from Laura Gomez to defeat New England 3-2 and will look to keep that going this week, as they also got goals from Kayla Saager and a much needed tally to get Kim Marra’s goal scoring account off and running. Look for them to jump on Worcester early, who have had a knack of conceding right from the start this season.
Worcester is the only team in the East that is currently eliminated from postseason play so they will be looking to play spoiler in Long Island’s playoff dreams. Last week, it was a barrage of early goals that put the Smiles down as they conceded three inside of ten minutes to Inferno Rush last Sunday and couldn’t get any attacking rhythm going. Goalkeeper Brittany Henderson did her best to keep her team in that match as she posted an 11-save effort for the second time this season, but the defense in front of her was overwhelmed by the Inferno attack. The Smiles finish the season at home next Sunday against Connecticut and could ultimately play spoiler in that match as well. But they will need to get off to a better start as in each of their last three contests, they’ve given up goals inside the first five minutes and need to do better in order to stay with Long Island.
Western New York Flash vs. Connecticut Fusion
6:00 PM EDT – D’Youville College (Buffalo, NY)
The Western New York Flash continue to power through the back half of their season as they currently sit level with Inferno Rush at the top of the table, only trailing by goal difference. They open up a three-match homestand to close out the season and will want to get off to a good start in their first of two matches on the weekend. Last time out, they utilized a brace from talented forward Carissima Cutrona to take down then conference leading Rochester Lady Lancers 2-1. They were forced to defend for large portions of the game but Matt Waddington’s team dug in to get the result. Now, they too can control their own destiny by trying to win out their remaining games to make the East Conference Championship Game.
The Fusion are coming off of a very disappointing home loss last weekend to New York, a game which they led 2-0 early on in the second half before allowing three goals to drop all three points. But holding leads has become an issue for Tom D’Agostino’s team as they also surrendered two-second half goals in their previous contest on June 16 against Long Island, a match where they led 2-0 at halftime. But their pathway to the East Conference Championship Game is still very much alive. But they have to attack this three-match road trip with the same persistence they had back in late May-early June when they posted a three-match winning streak, where they outscored their opponents 10-1. The last time the Fusion trekked out to the Western part of New York State, they defeated Rochester 4-0 back on May 27 so they are hoping to emulate that success in their second endeavor out to the region.
SUNDAY, JULY 8
Western New York Flash vs. Inferno Rush
1:00 PM EDT – D’Youville College (Buffalo, NY)
For the second straight weekend, the East Conference will feature a clash of the top-two teams in the standings. Both will be playing their second match of the weekend so heavy legs could be a factor here. However, with this being the penultimate match in the season for both clubs, they will know exactly what they need to try and get into the postseason. It’s an interesting battle of a very good offensive unit in Western New York, led by Cutrona, against an excellent defensive group that Inferno possesses. One would think in a match that has a lot riding on it, shoring up the defense will be a number one priority here and that would give the Rush an advantage. But the way that Cutrona, along with the rest of her team, have scored clutch goals this season, this match could go either way.
About United Women's Soccer:
UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer. 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 the UWS Communications office 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.