Women's Soccer News: Issaquah Steps into WPSL Playoffs for Spokane Shine
The Spokane Shine wrapped up a superb Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Northwest Conference campaign with four shutout victories, then watched from across the state as Issaquah Soccer Club was held to a 1-1 draw Sunday by Emerald City FC. That gave the eastern Washington club the conference crown and a berth in the WPSL playoffs.
However, the expense of playoff travel and player-availability issues have forced the Shine to withdraw, and Issaquah, the Northwest runner-up, will take their place at this weekend's Western regional final four in San Diego.
Issaquah (5-1-4) will face Pacific South champion San Diego SeaLions (5-1-0) in Saturday's 5:00 p.m. semifinal opener at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego. The California Storm (5-2-3) and Salt Lake United (6-0-2) will meet in the second game at 7:30 p.m. The winners of the two matches will battle it out Sunday at 4:00 p.m. for a spot in the national final four.
Club president Linda Davis told Inland NW Soccer News that finances were the primary issue. “We could not be more proud to be the WPSL Northwest division champions,” she said. “Now we look forward to year three when funding will allow us to fulfill our second dream, a trip to the WPSL Playoffs.”
Also making an impact are injuries and college preseason camps, starting earlier than ever and preceded by “optional” captain's practices, that are forcing many players to abandon their summer teams before the season is done.
“We're really short-handed,” explained Spokane coach Jason Quintero, whose team beat Emerald City and Oregon Rush last weekend to vault from fourth to first in the conference. “We lost five or six starters through the year for injuries, and now we've got a few more leaving. We're not the only ones going through this problem.”
Several WPSL playoff teams are affected.
“A lot of teams are having similar problems coming down to the wire this year,” said WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli, who is also owner and coach of the Sacramento-based California Storm. “If for one reason or another a team can't participate in the playoffs, the league has the option to allow the next team in line to come in. We've done that the last few years, and it's worked out very well.”
Issaquah, which tied and lost by a goal in two meetings this season with the Shine, was on top in the Northwest until the final week. The first-year WPSL team dropped to second when it twice tied Emerald City, a Seattle club that was unbeaten until a 1-0 loss Friday night at Spokane.
Issaquah is expected to be very competitive in the playoffs. It is led by Trinidad & Tobago internationals Kennya Cordner, who has seven goals, and Maylee Attin-Johnson, plus Welsh national-teamer Erin Vaughan.
“Issaquah is a well-rounded team with several quality options in the attack ...,” said Inland NW Soccer News' Gerald Barnhart, who has been involved with American women's soccer for years. “To be honest, the Seattle-area side is arguably the better representative in a playoff situation, this season. The Shine were much better the second time around with all of their opponents, but in the playoffs there is no second chance, and making adjustments to teams who are complete unknowns would have been a tough task.”
Issaquah coach Erin Redwine has a team she thinks can compete in the postseason.
“I'm super pleased. I couldn't be happier with this team,” she said. “They've really come together and are very unified, considering they've only been together a short time. I'm really proud of them. Of course, there have been disappointments along the way, but I've been pleased more than I've been disappointed. Whatever [our troubles], the team has always rallied to recover the things we didn't do well, to address those issues and face them.
“They're a resilient, strong, talented, tough group, for sure.”
This weekend the WPSL, a national league with more than 70 clubs, will decide all four teams for the July 28-29 final four.
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