METUCHEN, N.J. – All four teams at the top of the United Women’s Soccer East Conference will take the pitch this weekend in Week VII action, capping off the final push in the race for the conference crown. New Jersey (1st place) and New York (4th place) face the difficult task of playing two games in as many days, while both Long Island (1st place) and New England (3rd place) are coming off long layoffs and will face Copa and the Surf, respectively, in their second contest of the weekend.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
Rochester Lady Lancers vs. Western New York Flash
1:00 PM EDT – Wegmans Sports Complex (Rochester, NY)
The Western New York Flash (2-3-2 East) will finish our their 2017 regular season on the road, starting on Saturday night when they make the short trip east to face the Rochester Lady Lancers (0-6-1 East) in the rubber match of the Thruway Rivalry. After a humbling 7-0 loss to conference leaders Long Island Rough Riders (4-0-1 East) on Saturday, June 10th, Western New York has responded admirably, winning two out of their last three games. The combination of Carissima Cutrona (five goals, two assists) and Maddie Pezzino (three goals, three assists) in attack has propelled the Flash attack, with Cutrona’s 12 points currently tied for third in the league in scoring.
The two teams faced off last Saturday night, as Western New York hosted Rochester at Niagara University in their home finale. The Flash dominated the Lady Lancers with Cutrona and Pezzino leading the way, scoring two goals and two assists, respectively. The match got off to a quick start as Cutrona fed the ball to Pezzino, who put it home in the second minute to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead. Rochester evened the score at 1-1 five minutes later, but it would be little consolation as Pezzino notched her second goal in the 28th minute. In the second half, Cutrona tallied both Western New York goals with the assists going to rising Florida State University standout.
New York Surf vs. Lancaster Inferno
2:00 PM EDT – SUNY Maritime (Bronx, NY)
In the first game of an important two-match weekend, the New York Surf (3-1-2 East) host the Lancaster Inferno (3-3 East) in the first of three home games at SUNY Maritime on Saturday afternoon to conclude the regular season. New York will travel north on Sunday to face New England in western Massachusetts in their final road game of the season. It will be a difficult weekend to capture maximum points, but the Surf can start a final push towards the East title in this match against Lancaster, while if the Inferno suffer a fourth loss, it would almost definitely end their chance for the postseason.
New York will look to avenge their lone loss of the 2017 campaign, as they dropped a 2-1 contest to Lancaster on the road on Sunday, June 4th. In their home opener at Pucillo Field, the Inferno held on for the win after a late rally from the Surf. Midfielder Tesa McKibben (42nd minute) and forward Emily Kupsov (50th minute) led the Lancaster offense while the combination of Jordan Kamp and Kelly O’Brien made nine saves in goal. New York gained control of play in the second half and in the 71st minute, forward Erica Murphy capitalized on a rebound from a Flo Gamby shot after a great save by O’Brien to make the split the deficit.
New York Magic vs. New Jersey Copa FC
3:00 PM EDT – Brooklyn H.S. (Brooklyn, NY)
The New York Magic (0-4-1 East) host New Jersey Copa FC (4-1-1 East) in the teams’ only matchup of the 2017 regular season on Saturday afternoon. In 15 games spanning two seasons, New York has still yet to register a victory in UWS East play. And it will be an even more difficult proposition as New Jersey will be looking to get back to winning ways after a 1-1 draw with the New York Surf last Sunday afternoon. In her fourth game back with Copa after a stint overseas with Apollon Ladies, forward Krystyna Freda scored her fifth goal in the 21st minute to put NJCFC up by a 1-0 score. But Flo Gamby would tally the game-tying goal in the 55th minute for the Surf, spoiling New Jersey’s three-game winning streak.
Simply put, the Magic’s attack has not scored or pressured the opposition’s defense enough this season (three goals in five games) while leaning too much on the strong play of goalkeeper Sierra Bonham – who is third in all of UWS with 29 saves. In last Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Lancaster, Bonham once again shouldered the burden, making 12 saves. And it took a defensive miscue from the Inferno for New York to get on the scoreboard. Forward Mami Yamaguchi took advantage and chipped Lancaster keeper Jordan Kamp for her first goal of the season.
SUNDAY, JUNE 25
New England Mutiny vs. New York Surf
5:00 PM EDT – E. Longmeadow H.S. (E. Longmeadow, MA)
It has been a two-week layoff for the New England Mutiny (4-2 East) and with an opportunity to capture the East title, it could not have occurred at a better time. And New England will also host a New York Surf side who will play a solid Lancaster Inferno the day before, so with three of four games at home to finish the regular season, the Mutiny have a great chance to make a statement in the conference campaign. However, it was New York who has already made a big impact on New England this season and it happened on Saturday, June 3rd.
In their first big test of 2017, the Mutiny hit the road and the Surf offense struck early in each half in the 4-2 victory at SUNY Maritime. Midfielder Jordan Clark put the Surf on the score board in the eighth minute, blasting her header off a Flo Gamby corner kick off the cross bar and past New England goalkeeper Annie Ulliac. Five minutes later, forward Erica Murphy maneuvered through the Mutiny defense and beat Ulliac for the 2-0 score. New England got a goal back through forward Kate Howarth in the 29th minute but the Surf notched two goals early in the second half to put the game out of reach.
New Jersey Copa FC vs. Long Island Rough Riders
7:00 PM EDT – St. John Vianney H.S. (Holmdel, NJ)
It has also been a two-week layoff for the Long Island Rough Riders, who dominated Lancaster on the road by a 6-1 score in their last game on Sunday, June 11th to put them atop the East Conference. Christina Dutcher’s two goals and assist led the Long Island attack in the victory. Overall, forward Morgan Santoro leads the team in scoring with five goals on the season, with Kayla Saager right behind her with four goals. Goalkeeper Melissa Guglielmo has spent the majority of time in goal for the Rough Riders, allowing only one goal past her in 360 minutes of action.
Long Island gave New Jersey their only loss of the season on Saturday, May 30th. The Rough Riders hosted Copa at Cy Donnelly Stadium and were on the front foot from start to finish in the 3-0 win. Santoro had a goal in each half and midfielder Taylor Elliott led the team to victory over the 2016 UWS runner-ups. Both teams had their fair share of chances in the first half, but it was Santoro’s goal in the 36th minute that broke the deadlock. Long Island doubled their lead in the 65th minute when Santoro faked her shot and then rifled the ball into the corner.