Women's Soccer News: The Ultimate Women’s Soccer Lovers Guide to the WPSL Playoffs
Playoff Picture Comes into Focus with Thirteen Berths Set, Six Still to Be Determined in Upcoming Weekend Action
The regular season ends this weekend in the Women's Premier Soccer League, and six of 19 playoff berths are still there for the taking.
There also remain four of 11 regular-season conference champions to be crowned after Aztec MA (Northeast Atlantic - North), New York Athletic Club (Northeast Atlantic - Mid), FC Milwaukee Nationals (Midwest), San Diego SeaLions (Pacific-South) and Tampa Bay Hellenic (Sunshine) claimed titles over the weekend and early this week.
Gulf Coast Texans (Southeast) and Maryland Capitols FC (Northeast Atlantic - South) had conference titles in hand before last weekend's matches.
Aztec (8-1-1) clinched the Northeast Atlantic - North crown with a 4-0 victory over Seacoast United Phantoms. Dana Bergstrom, Brittany Russo, Jenna Roncararti and Maddie Evans scored the goals.
NYAC (6-1-2) beat Syracuse, 2-1, to vault past the Lady Knights and win the Northeast Atlantic - Mid title.
FC Milwaukee (5-0-0) posted two 2-0 decisions over previously perfect Madison 56ers to snag the Midwest crown.
The SeaLions (5-1-0) didn't have to wait for their showdown with Beach FC to claim the Pacific-South title, as Beach was upset the day before by Ajax America. Beach then beat San Diego, 2-1, in the regular-season finale.
Tampa Bay (6-0-0) claimed the Sunshine title with a 1-0 win at Clermont Phoenix and finish with games this weekend against Team Boca Blast and Florida Sol FC.
Playoffs begin this weekend with two first-round games in the six-team Northeast Atlantic tournament. Maryland Capitols (7-1-2) will be home Saturday against Syracuse Lady Knights (5-3-2) and New England Mutiny Reserves (6-2-2) will play host Sunday to FC Bucks (4-1-5). Aztec MA and NYAC have byes to next week's semifinals.
|The San Diego SeaLions are one of seven teams that have clinched their regular season conference championship and now look ahead to the WPSL regional playoffs. Photo Credit: Aaron Jaffe
Now let's take a look at the playoff situation and the race in every conference:
Pacific-South: San Diego SeaLions
Pacific-North, Northwest and Big Sky-North champions also claim playoff berths
Big Sky South: FC Dallas, Oklahoma FC
One more Big Sky-South berth available
Southeast: Gulf Coast Texans
Sunshine: Tampa Bay Hellenic, Florida Del Sol, South Florida Strikers, Team Boca Blast
Northeast Atlantic - North: Aztec MA, New England Mutiny Reserves
Northeast Atlantic - Mid: New York Athletic Club, Syracuse Lady Knights
Northeast Atlantic - South: Maryland Capitols, FC Bucks
WPSL CONFERENCE RACES
WEST: 4 playoff berths
PACIFIC SOUTH (1 advances to postseason)
1. San Diego SeaLions (5-1-0, 15 points)
The SeaLions lost to WPSL champion Orange County Waves on penalties in last year's Pacific final. They'll be home for the West playoffs, which will send one team to the WPSL final four.
PACIFIC NORTH (1)
1. California Storm (4-2-3, 15)
2. North Bay FC Wave (4-1-3, 15)
3. West Coast WildKatz (3-1-4, 13)
4. Bay Area Breeze (3-2-3, 12)
5. Central California Heat (4-4-0, 12)
Five teams are in the thick of the WPSL's best race, and all except the first-place California Storm have six points in front of them. North Bay has the highest ceiling but faces games against 2011 conference winner Bay Area Breeze and the Sacramento-based Storm.
1. Issaquah Soccer Club (5-1-3, 18)
2. Emerald City FC (3-0-5, 14)
4. Spokane Shine (4-2-2, 14)
This is a three-team race, with the third-place Portland Rain (4-3-2) the odd team out -- eliminated on the head-to-head tiebreaker before Issaquah SC made the math impossible with Wednesday night's draw against Emerald City FC. Issaquah and Emerald City meet again Saturday in the Seattle derby, and Emerald City also has a trip Friday to Spokane.
BIG SKY NORTH (1)
1. Salt Lake United (6-0-0, 18)
3. Phoenix U23 (2-2-0, 6)
4. Phoenix Del Sol (2-2-0, 6)
Salt Lake United needs just one point to clinch the title and probably claims it even with losses in both games on this weekend's trip to Phoenix. Phoenix Del Sol surely can't make up last week's 11-1 loss in the tiebreaker, so the Phoenix U23 are Salt Lake's lone competition. Second-place Utah Starzz (4-2-0) are out of it after dropping both of their meetings with Salt Lake. The Phoenix teams, from the same club, face off Sunday with the result worth double.
MIDWEST: 3 Playoff Berths
BIG SKY SOUTH (3)
1. FC Dallas (10-1-0, 30)
2. Oklahoma FC (8-1-2, 26)
3. American Eagles (7-3-2, 23)
4. Tulsa Spirit (6-4-1, 19)
5. Houston South Select (6-4-1, 19)
FC Dallas and Oklahoma FC have clinched playoff spots, and Dallas can win the regular-season title with a victory Friday at Fort Worth. American Eagles have the inside track on the third playoff berth, and a win over the Houston Aces will make it certain. Tulsa Spirit and Houston South Select face off on Saturday. The playoff opener is next Thursday, with the conference final two days later determining one berth at the WPSL final four.
1. FC Milwaukee Nationals (5-0-0, 15)
FC Milwaukee was perfect in the Midwest, and finished ahead of Ohio Galaxies (3-0-2), which wasn't on the Nationals' schedule. The Midwest champ is not going to the playoffs.
SOUTH: 5 Playoff Berths
1. Gulf Coast Texans (7-0-0, 21)
The Pensacola, Fla., club completed a perfect divisional campaign with a 5-1 romp over Georgia Revolution and will play at the Sunshine tournament winner for a WPSL final-four berth.
1. Tampa Bay Hellenic (6-0-0, 18)
2. Florida Sol FC (3-2-1, 10)
3. Team Boca Blast (2-2-2, 8)
4. South Florida Strikers (1-3-2, 5)
Tampa Bay won the conference and the other three berths for the conference tournament have been determined, so the final weekend's games will confirm the seeds. The semifinals are next Tuesday, with the top two teams home, and the higher-seeded winner will be home for the final two days later. That winner takes on the Southeast champ to go to the WPSL final four.
NORTHEAST ATLANTIC - NORTH (2)
1. Aztec MA (8-1-1, 25)
2. New England Mutiny Reserves (6-2-2, 20)
Neither Aztec nor New England were assured a playoff berth before both swept two games last weekend to finish 1-2. Aztec's win over Seacoast United Phantoms (4-2-3), which started the week in second place, enabled the Mutiny Reserves to jump into second.
NORTHEAST ATLANTIC - MID (2)
1. New York Athletic Club (7-1-2, 23)
2. Syracuse Lady Knights (5-3-2, 17)
NYAC vaulted past Syracuse at the finish, then clinched the tournament's No. 2 seed with Tuesday's victory over winless FCW Elite.
NORTHEAST ATLANTIC - SOUTH (2)
1. Maryland Capitols (7-1-2, 23)
2. FC Bucks (4-1-5, 17)
The Capitols, the conference crown safely tucked away, knocked Penn Legacy Inferno (5-4-1) out of the running with a 2-0 win Sunday. FC Bucks climbed to second with a win and a tie, and the win was a big one, 8-2 over fellow playoff qualifier Syracuse.
The openers of the Northeast Atlantic playoffs are set for Saturday and Sunday, and the semifinals – with the Bucks/New England winner playing at top-seeded Aztec and Syracuse/Maryland set to visit NYAC – will be played Tuesday or Wednesday. The highest-seeded survivor will be home for the July 22 final.
WPSL Count Down to Playoffs: Women's soccer is tough, agressive and action packed
Photo Credit: Aaron Jaffe