W-League Week in Review: Teams settling in and competition heats up
By Kaeley McEvoy
Memorial Day weekend certainly brought out the best in W-League competition as teams from every conference competed fiercely to conclude the first month of competition in the 2011 season. Now entering its third week of play, the W-League is becoming extremely competitive as teams are beginning to find their legs and learn to work cohesively to enhance the level of play on every coast.
On the West Coast, the Pacific Conference recorded a weekend of high scoring and highly competitive games leaving the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rush at the top of the conference with nine points each. Vancouver, however, was able to overtake their recent conference rivals with a 3-0 defeat on Friday. The Whitecaps recorded their third consecutive victory with the shutout win. Tiffany Weimer, the Caps now team-leading scorer, scored two goals in front of a large crowd at Exhibition Stadium. Newcomer Alysha Bonnick also netted a goal for Vancouver when Jennifer Stoltenberg placed a beautiful ball five yards out from the Rush net. However, the Colorado Rush were able to rebound very quick from their Friday loss when they gained a late victory over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon. The Rush were luckily rewarded a pair of penalties, both converted by Danielle Foxhoven, that allowed them to steal the lead from the Seattle Sounders.
Vancouver and Colorado now sit atop the Pacific Conference with nine points each. Not very far behind, however, are the Santa Clarita Blue Heat with seven points. The Blue Heat made it very clear this weekend that they deserve to be competing for playoff spot when they defeated the L.A. Strikers with an astonishing 7-2 victory. After playing to a draw on Thursday against the Pali Blues, the Blue Heat were ready for action this weekend. Coach Fabian Sandoval remarked that he was very pleased with the team’s overall performance. The Blue Heat are now tied with the Pali Blues with seven points in the top of the conference.
The Great Lake conference also experienced an entertaining weekend of Memorial Day competition. The Ottawa Fury had a very impressive weekend of play recording two victories and gaining the top spot in the Great Lakes conference. After the Women’s World Cup removed five reserves from the 2010 Fury roster, Fury coaching staff was able to create a roster with more than 20 players that have NCAA experience. This weekend, the Fury defeated the Rochester Ravens with a 2-0 victory and overcame the Hamilton FC Rage, 1-0. Also in Great Lake Conference play, the Laval Comets had a great weekend recording a victory and a draw in conference play. The Comets defeated the London Gryphons, 2-1, on Saturday and played the Toronto Lynx to a nil-nil draw on Sunday.
Notable games this weekend were also played in the Atlantic and Northeast Divisions of the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Lady Eagles suffered a loss to the Dayton Dutch Lions as the Lions took their second consecutive win W-League action. Lions forward Mandi Back scored a goal in the 81st minute of play when a shot deflected into the top corner of the net. In the Northeast Division, the Long Island Rough Riders stole three points from the New York Magic with a 4-0 victory.
As the month of May comes to an end and the fresh cut grass of summer soccer in June lies just around the corner, the W-League only promises more excitement as the competition has only begun to get competitive.