The Connecticut Fusion, New Jersey Copa FC, Long Island Rough Riders and New York Surf are all in action in the United Women’s Soccer East Conference. this weekend.
Friday, May 18
Connecticut Fusion vs. New Jersey Copa FC
7 p.m. ET – Farmington Sports Arena (Farmington, Conn.)
After a postponement last weekend, New Jersey Copa FC will finally kick off its season Friday night, traveling north to face the Connecticut Fusion (0-1). Last Saturday’s match against Long Island was called due to lightning and last season’s East regular-season champions have been patiently waiting for their chance to get out on the pitch. The return of veterans such as midfielder Jackie Bruno (two-time All-UWS selection), forward Jeanine Nunez (All-UWS East selection) and midfielder Camille Bowen will bolster the young club alumni from the FC Copa Academy Celeste that have joined the UWS senior team this season.
Despite being a first-year team in the league, Connecticut has deep soccer roots – specifically with JP Dellacamera and Shep Messing who are the founding directors of the Fusion and FSA FC nad who own the team and the home venue. The team showed that last Friday night as it battled it out with a long-time franchise in the New England Mutiny in its inaugural match. After allowing an early goal, Connecticut equalized on a goal from forward Tori Sousa in the 19th minute. Midfielder Rachel Morrier put the home team in front with a goal in the 57th minute. Yet, the Mutiny showed its mettle and rallied for the 3-2 win. Morrier and Sousa were named to the UWS team of the week.
Saturday, May 19
Long Island Rough Riders vs. Western New York Flash
5 p.m. ET – Michael J. Tully Park (North Hempstead, N.Y.)
The defending East Conference champions also had to wait a week to kick off their season, and will face off against the same team it hosted at home to open last season: the Western New York Flash. On Saturday, May 13, 2017 Long Island got a dagger in the heart by the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions as time ticked off the clock when Flash defender Kaelyn Gamel headed home a corner kick from midfielder Brittany Heist to notch a vital 1-1 road draw for the visitors at Cy Donnelly Stadium. The Rough Riders opened the scoring in the 31st minute when Marist College forward Hope Quinonez beat WNY goalkeeper Megan Tock (four saves) with her shot inside the penalty area for the 1-0 lead.
The rematch a couple of weeks later was a completely different matter as Long Island ran away with a 7-0 victory on the road at Niagara University. The Rough Riders took an early lead in the fifth minute and never looked back. Returnees Morgan Santoro and Kayla Saager combined to score five goals while veteran keeper Melissa Guglielmo made four saves in the shutout. Saager scored 11 goals and seven assists and was honored as the America East striker of the year for Binghamton University last fall. She was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-East Region second team. Santoro was a Division II All-American first team selection for Adelphi University in her senior season in 2016.
New England Mutiny vs. Rochester Lady Lancers
7 p.m. ET – East Longmeadow H.S. (East Longmeadow, Mass.)
The New England Mutiny (1-0) start the home portion of its schedule in the UWS East after opening their season with a 3-2 win over the Fusion last Friday night. New England was victorious in both meetings against Rochester last season. The Mutiny also opened their 2017 home schedule at ELHS with a match against Rochester, which competed in it inaugural season. The Mutiny offense clicked from the outset, scoring five first-half goals en route to a 5-1 victory. The two teams met again on Sunday, June 11 with Rochester proving to be a much tougher opponent. Kara Shue started the scoring for the Lady Lancers in the opening minute off an assist from Taylor Wingerden but the visitors rallied for a 2-1 win.
The Mutiny will look to maintain their winning start to this season as they came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Connecticut on the road. New England opened the scoring in the seventh minute when 2017 All-UWS East selection Brenna Brown scored the UWS regular season’s first goal with an assist from Mutiny all-time leading scorer Kate Howarth. The Fusion went ahead 2-1 early in the second half. Goals from forward Marissa Aniolowski and defender Elena Santos gave New England the lead as goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx (11 saves) kept her team in the match. Proulx, Santos and Mutiny legend Meghan Schnur were named to the UWS team of the week. Proulx also was named the UWS defensive player of the week.
SUNDAY, MAY 20
New York Surf vs. Western New York Flash
1:30 p.m. ET – SUNY Maritime (Bronx, N.Y.)
The New York Surf (1-0) got off to a hot start in its season opener Saturday night, scoring three minutes into the match against the Worcester Smiles in a 1-0 road win at Foley Stadium. Maegan Doyle’s corner kick found forward Furtuna Velaj, who set up Salma Tarik for the game-winner. Surf goalkeeper Jamie Block made three vital saves. Velaj and Block were named to the UWS team of the week.
Western New York head coach Matt Waddington will have a chore in hand this weekend, as he will have to safely navigate his roster with two back-to-back games to open the campaign. Highlighting his returnees is forward Carissima Cutrona, who was named to the 2017 All-UWS first team and led the team in scoring (26 points). Defender Danielle Braun also returns to bolster the backline, as she was named to the All-UWS East second team for her strong play. Waddington has added international experience to this year’s team with Georgia Allen (Under-20 England), Taylor Bennett (U-18 U.S.) and Charlotte Williams (U-23 U.S.). Williams is a third team All-Big East player for Penn State University.
Worcester Smiles vs. Rochester Lady Lancers
5 p.m. ET – Foley Stadium (Worcester, Mass.)
After giving up an early goal in their season-opening home loss to the Surf, the Worcester Smiles played their opponents evenly the rest of the way and carried the run of play for a significant portion of the second half. Kristina Balfoort’s blast from the top of the box was parried away by Surf goalkeeper Jamie Block as the shot deflected off the crossbar. Block was called upon a second time to preserve the lead with a save from Smiles’ midfielder Giana Leone. Veteran goalkeeper Brittany Henderson, who last played in the W-League in 2010 for the Rough Riders, made six saves for the Smiles. Defender Jackie Feraco was named to the UWS team of the week.
Rochester Lady Lancers head coach Sal Galvano will also have to deal with back-to-back games this weekend but will have the addition of some veteran experience to count on – both on and off the pitch. Player-assistant coach Brooke Barbuto has brought optimism to the organization as the Syracuse, N.Y.-native comes with vast college and professional experience. After the end of her Stony Brook University career, Barbuto went on to play professional soccer for the Western New York Flash (2009-2010). Afterwards, she had stints with Haukar in Iceland and GBK & Nice Futis in Finland. In 2017, Barbuto played for the Peninsula Power in Australia and won MVP honors for NPL QLD and NPL Women’s QLD. She scored 28 times in 20 matches to lead the Power to the Premiership-Championship double.