METUCHEN, N.J. – The East Conference of United Women’s Soccer will have a two-team playoff on Tuesday, July 18 for the automatic berth into the National Championship (July 21-22) in Grandville, Miss.
New Jersey (22 points) has booked one spot in the East Final and with one regular season match remaining on their schedule, they await their opponent. That adversary could be any one of four teams, as New England (18 points), New York Surf (17), Long Island Rough Riders (16) and Lancaster Inferno (12 points) still can stake their claim to either first or second place in the final conference standings.
SATURDAY, JULY 8
New York Surf vs. Long Island Rough Riders
2 p.m. ET – SUNY Maritime (Bronx, N.Y.)
The first match of the weekend slate in the UWS East will set the tone for the remainder of the conference race. The New York Surf (5-2-2) host the Long Island Rough Riders (5-1-1) in their regular season finale, and can make their closing argument for the second spot in the East Final. Simply put, New York needs to win on Saturday afternoon which will put them at 19 points. But they still need help to finish in second place: most likely another draw/loss by Long Island and a draw/loss by the New England Mutiny on Sunday afternoon. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two organizations and it promises to be an exciting encounter.
Even though the Surf have had a solid first season at the pro-am level, this match will be another chance for them to win two straight contests. New York were victorious in their local derby versus the Magic last Saturday, coming away with a 5-0 road win. Two goals from forward Erica Murphy and midfielder Corinna Ferrante powered the attack while goalkeeper Colleen Hickey made four saves in the shutout. The Rough Riders got back in the win column in impressive fashion last Friday with forward Morgan Santoro and forward Erica Modena leading the offense in a 5-1 win over Rochester. That victory kept Long Island in best position for the second spot in the East Final, as they control their own fate and have two matches in hand on their competition.
Lancaster Inferno vs. New Jersey Copa FC
3 p.m. ET – Millersville University (Millersville, Pa.)
While the Lancaster Inferno (4-4) have not been mathematically eliminated from finishing in second place in the East Conference race, a lot of dominoes will need to fall in their favor. The first domino is Lancaster’s regular season home finale on Saturday afternoon and its a big one as they host New Jersey Copa FC (7-1-1 East) at Pucillo Field. With 22 points, New Jersey has already locked up one spot in the East Final and now await: one, who their opponent will be; and two, who will host the showdown for the automatic berth into the UWS Championship. Also, in three matches over two seasons against Copa, the Inferno have yet to post a positive result but there is no better time for them than tomorrow.
In the first match between the two teams this season on Saturday, June 3, NJCFC maintained its all-time unbeaten streak at home in a 2-0 win at Saint John Vianney High School. Unassisted strikes from Camille Bowen in the 18th minute and Katarina Nilsson in the 73rd minute combined with the Copa defense to post a clean sheet. Bowen collected a deflection in the middle of the field and unleashed a blast to the far post from more than 30 yards out. Nilsson entered the game in the 61st minute and made her presence felt after beating a defender on the right side of the six-yard box. Her first shot was blocked but she tucked the rebound into the far left side netting for her third goal of the season.
New York Magic vs. Western New York Flash
6 p.m. ET – Poly Prep Country Day School (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The Western New York Flash (3-3-2) return to conference play after a two-week layoff with a two-game weekend road trip to conclude their season. The match against the New York Magic (0-7-1) will be the first-ever matchup between the two former W-League organizations. Western New York has turned a mid-season letdown to Long Island into winning three of the last four matches, the last two over Rochester in the Thruway Rivalry. Even with the break in action, Flash forward Carissima Cutrona has remained in the top five in points in the league, as her seven goals & three assists (14 points) puts her in fifth spot in the UWS scoring race.
Cutrona notched her sixth and seventh goals of the season in Western New York’s last game on Saturday, June 24th, a 3-2 road win over Rochester. The Flash got off to another quick start when she found herself open in front of the net and converted in the eighth minute for the 1-0 lead. Rochester responded in the 32nd minute with a goal from forward Taylor Wingerden on a penalty kick. Flash forward Maddie Pezzino converted in the 66th minute on a breakaway, running in from 35 yards out before deking Lady Lancers keeper Kelsey Brinkel and putting the ball into the empty net. In the 71st minute, Cutrona tallied her second goal with a strike that hit the crossbar and bounced over the line. Rochester completed the scoring in the 87th minute with thanks to midfielder Michaela Areno.
SUNDAY, JULY 9
New England Mutiny vs. Western New York Flash
3 p.m. ET – East Longmeadow H.S. (East Longmeadow, Mass.)
The New England Mutiny (6-3) occupy second place in the East Conference race, but their postseason fate is at the mercy of the Long Island Rough Riders – who hold two games in hand. New England had a chance to post a higher point total last weekend, but were only able to capture three out of a possible six points. Last Saturday, the Mutiny went toe-to-toe with New Jersey Copa FC for all 90 minutes in the showdown between first and second place. But they could not cross the finish line, missing a pair of first half chances in a 1-0 loss at Copa. New England rebounded with a 4-0 home victory over the New York Magic on Sunday to keep them in the race. If the Mutiny are victorious on Sunday against Western New York, New England needs Long Island to go 1-1-1 to finish the season for them to capture second place.
The last time the Flash and the Mutiny played at East Longmeadow High School was during the 2012 WPSL Elite season. After the dissolution of Women’s Professional Soccer, the one-year pro-am experiment brought together professional organizations like Western New York and top-class amateur sides like New England. The two sides battled to a tense 3-3 draw June 24. The Flash were led by Spanish international Adriana & United States Women’s National Team defender Meghan Klingenberg while the Mutiny had current team captain Kate Howarth & Boston Breakers midfielder Morgan Andrews scoring for the home side.