Women's Soccer News: FC Milwaukee Nationals Close Out WPSL Season with Perfect Record
The FC Milwaukee Nationals might not win the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) title this year, but they could achieve something even the champion doesn't – a perfect season.
The Nationals claimed the Midwest Conference title this week, completing their campaign with two victories over the Madison 56ers, and head coach Christian Lavers couldn't be more pleased about the progress his team made.
“I thought our players worked hard and got better over the course of the summer,” said Lavers, who has long played a significant role in the development of female soccer talent in the U.S. “It always takes some time to get college players back in rhythm, used to playing together. We got better every week and finished with our best game Tuesday night.”
It was the second 2-0 victory over the 56ers in three days, and it left FC Milwaukee with a 5-0-0 record – but without a playoff spot. The difficulties and costs of playoff travel are keeping the club, which reached the WPSL final four two years ago, from competing in the postseason.
“We did [all the travel] one year, when we went to the final four,” Lavers said. “But it's hard to do as you bump up so close to the college preseason. Colleges are asking kids to get [into camp] earlier and earlier. The last thing they need is show up exhausted from all the travel.”
The Nationals certainly would provide stiff competition if they were moving on. They conceded just two goals in five games behind a talented group of players that featured five Marquette players – defender Katie Hishimeh and midfielders Ally Miller, Ashley Stemmeler, Mary Luba and Mady Vicker – who grew up playing for Lavers.
Stemmeler scored in both victories over the 56ers, and Vicker also tallied in Sunday's win at Madison. So did Joana Bielefeld, a defender from the University of Wisconsin.
Baylor's Dana Larsen headed FC Milwaukee's attack, and the backline was anchored by Brittany Van Rueden, who just graduated high school and is headed to Notre Dame.
Lavers liked the short schedule the WPSL afforded his team. The primary goal was furthering players' understanding and level of play, and training sessions were often more important than the matches in that regard.
“It's a short summer season with the college girls, and rather than have more games and risk injury, we decided to play a smaller number of games and have more trainings. I think it worked out.”
The results confirm that.
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