By: Liz Quintana
Ajax American Women joined the WPSL league in the early years and consistently play at the highest level. Many of the players have played for their National teams and top college programs across the country. They have made the final four 6 times in the past 9 years, and were just crowned Champions in the Las Vegas Silver Mug Tournament, proof they are starting out the 2013 season strong.
LA Premier FC, a youth soccer club located in Pasadena, is delighted to be back in the WPSL and competing in the 2013 Season. After a year away from the competition, they have decided to pick up where they left off and get back on the field. Led by Executive Director of Coaching, Barry Ritson, the team has attracted some of the biggest talents in the area including UCLA quartet Megan Oyster, Chelsea Stewart (Canadian Bronze Medal Olympian), Rosie White (New Zealand International), and Goalkeeper Alana Munger. With over 30 collegiate players attending tryouts, as well as top Juniors and Seniors from within the youth club system, the LAPFC team will be ready to compete against the top teams in the division. "We are excited to be back," said Ritson. "With the youth club adopting this program we feel as though the environment should reflect the clubs philosophies. From professional coaches to opportunities for players to improve on the field and prepare for their next level, we aim to compete in every game. We will use this environment to show the youth players exactly what it takes to compete as college players. By having our players train with and compete alongside the likes of Chelsea, Rosie, Megan and other top college and ex-pro players, we feel they will be ready to make an impact in their freshman year."
San Diego WFC SeaLions are one of the league veterans, and always bring a strong team. This year, the SeaLions added former Women's Professional Soccer defender Nikki Kryzsik to the squad, raising the team to another level. "Nikki has experience playing at the highest level, showing maturity, leadership, athleticism, as well as being defensively and tactically sound," said Head Coach Jen Lalor-Nielsen. "Nikki makes everyone around her better due to her excellent passing ability, her quick and smart decisions on the ball, and her ability to communicate and lead out of the back. She has helped raise our game, and she has fit right into our team's structure and dynamic." The teams' main focus this year is to finish where they left off last season. They will accomplish this by putting the best product onto the field, entertaining the fans, and proving that San Diego is ready for a pro women's soccer team again. With all the returning players and the new talent they've brought on board, the SeaLions intend to make it to the Final Four and win the National Championship.
Beach Futbol Club, based in Long Beach, California, was new to the league last year. They are a very strong team, providing opportunity for the nation's top caliber athletes to compete at a national level. Last season they were led by Long Beach State Coach Mauricio Ingrassia. This year, Drew Rea has taken over as head coach, and has soaring expectations for the 2013 season.
Alabama F.C. is new to the league this season and will be represented out of Birmingham "We are very excited to join the WPSL as the league has a great reputation," said Joel Person, Head Coach of the Alabama F.C. "Our Alabama F.C. WPSL team is a natural extension of our BUSA ECNL program and will provide our current and former players an avenue to be challenged and grow in the game! We are very honored and excited to have the opportunity to bring high level women's soccer to central Alabama. We hope to create a platform through the WPSL for youth soccer players to look up to and aspire to play for the team one day."
The Georgia Revolution were originally brought in from the Atlanta area and were new to the league last year. Although they didn't quite know what to expect from the league, they came out as a solid force and are expected to keep up that level of play. Last season, they lost a close match to the Texans in the conference finals, who later went on to win the National Championship. Now with a better grasp on the league, they're expecting nothing less than a conference championship, with the end goal being, of course, winning the National Championship. Building team chemistry in a short period of time will be the main challenge for the Revolution this year, as they must wait for each player to finish their collegiate Spring season. "We are excited to have at least eight of last seasons division one players returning as veterans with 'unfinished business,'" said Colin Wilson, Assistant Coach. "And we're also excited to bring in at least eight more new players who each have the potential to play even higher. With our top-of-the-line facilities, qualified staff and our large talent pool in Georgia, we are looking to train 30 of the top players in the league and take the team to the next level."
Gulf Coast Texans, located in Pensacola, Florida, earned the title of WPSL Champions in 2012. They are expected to have another strong squad this year, albeit with practically a brand new team. The team is very young this year, consisting of mostly college players and even a few high schoolers. The Texans are fed from a youth program, and the out of state players are different this year, as well. "We're completely rebuilding and restarting this year. I'm very excited for that, and it's going to be exciting to see how we do," said Head Coach David Kemp. When asked if he was trying for a repeat of last year, Kemp answered, "I'm hopeful for a strong squad and creating a great environment for the girls; anything more is a bonus."
Knoxville Lady Force joined the league in 2012 and are ready to begin their second season in the Women's Premier Soccer League. After a good inaugural season, with the Lady Force finishing second in regular season play, the team is excited about the new group coming in, and ready to build off of last years' success. Adding many new names to this years roster, the Lady Force are gaining experience in areas that will help advance the team in the 2013 season. With players from all over the state of Tennessee, collegiate players throughout the Southeast, coupled with international talent, the Lady Force look ready to kick off their season. Head Coach Fields Brown says, "I'm really excited about the 2013 year. We have been able to secure key players returning from last year, as well as adding in some wonderful players with great experience. Through the quality of our players, and what I witnessed during our first week of training, I can already see that we are not only building a stronger team, but growing." Being in the Southeastern Conference, the Lady Force will be competing against some of the highest level of competition, but are expected to be a strong force this year.
Mississippi Fuego FC are returning for their second year in the WPSL. They recently relocated from Jackson to Hattiesburg, and are optimistic for the upcoming season. Head Coach Danny Owens has an outstanding track record and his results with the team will speak for themselves.
Big Sky South
FC Tulsa Spirit have been a long time member in the WPSL. They always bring a competitive squad to the league, and are hoping for the same results this season. The team will be led by Head Coach Ali Adibi, who is going into his fifth year with the team.
Fort Worth Panthers are starting their sixth year with the WPSL, and are excited to bring their best season yet. They are looking forward to the return of many of their former players and happy to add some new talent to the roster. "As a Coach for Fort Worth FC, I would like to say how excited we are for the upcoming WPSL season," said Michelle Clementson, Player Coach for the FW Panthers. "Many of our youth teams enjoy the opportunity to watch these talented girls play at such a high level. Some of the current Panthers actually grew up in our club watching them play and have now joined in to help the team grow. It is a wonderful asset for our club to have these ladies as role models for our young girls." The Panthers have a highly experienced core group of players who have played together for several years. Each year together adds more comfort and confidence to the squad. They're combining talented college players to the team and expect a very well rounded group. Expected challenges this year will be keeping the level of play at a top level, while playing consecutive games on the road. Although it will be challenging, the Panthers are prepared for it, and expected to rise above and grow.
Houston Aces joined the league in 2012 and are busy filling their 2013 roster with experienced players from across the United States and the globe. They are looking forward to bringing their talent, dedication and ambition to the field, playing against the best competition in the US. Head Coach, Aguinaldo "Gui Gui" Ferreira brings a powerhouse of knowledge to the team. The Aces are gaining confidence for the upcoming season, and Ferreira's coaching experience is sure to create a team you don't want to miss.
Houston South Select will be returning for their sixth year in the league. The team is comprised of highly technical and experienced athletes playing at a top level. Coupled with their speed and dedication to the game, the South Select will be a team to watch this season.
Oklahoma City FC is comprised of accomplished college-graduate, college and high school players from Oklahoma's Green Country area. They were a challenge for competing teams last year, and an even stronger team this year. The OKC FC will be coached by Zenati Al-Zenati, and are a serious contender for the league title.
Texas Football Club, (TFC), will be competing for a second season in 2013. The club is excited to continue providing an avenue of development for women's soccer. Being led by returning coach Mario Guzman and his years of experience coaching at all levels, the team could go far. With former professional, current collegiate and national team players, they are ready for the season. TFC is always a strong team, and hope that the recent team rebuilding will make them an even stronger force this year.
Big Sky North
St. George United is in their fourth season with the WPSL. They are trying to build a quality club and promote the game of soccer within their community. Having just done a reorganization this year, St. George United is hoping to further their chances for the title.
The Phoenix Del Sol squad will be home to many female athletes from the Phoenix Metro area, currently playing in colleges around the country. Del Sol is full of dedicated, hard working players who play at a top level. Phoenix never disappoints and always comes through with strong teams. Being coached by Les Armstrong, one of the most successful female coaches in the history of Arizona soccer, the league doesn't expect this year to be any different.
Real Salt Lake Women, formerly Sparta Women, accepted an invitation to join the WPSL in 2008. Last year they partnered with Utah's Major League Soccer team, Real Salt Lake to form this highly competitive amateur women's soccer team. The women, coaches and staff pride themselves on having a strong mission to provide opportunities for elite players to play at a higher level. “We couldn’t be happier for Real Salt Lake Women to carry the RSL banner into women’s soccer,” said RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen. “One of our core values is to promote the game at all levels in Utah and our association with RSL Women will help us do that. They’re really a fantastic group that’s had success on and off the field and we’re very excited to help them as they continue to grow the women’s game in our state in 2013 and beyond.” Real Salt Lake became Regional Champions in 2012, earning them a spot in the final four. They are expected to be a serious contender this year for the title this year.
Tucson Soccer Academy is new to the league this year, and Ted Schmidt, President of the Tucson Soccer Academy is thrilled to be part of the WPSL. "Establishing a WPSL team in Tucson is a dream come true for young women soccer players and their fans throughout the Southwest, and especially Tucson. The WPSL is the equivalent of FC Tucson on the women's side. The Tucson Soccer Academy is proud to add this new opportunity for college age women to compete against top level teams in the West during their summer break from school. TSA wishes to extend a huge 'Thank You' to Pima County and FC Tucson for making this dream come true."
Utah Starzz was founded in 1999 and is home to a variety of highly skilled players from the Intermountain Region. This successful team is busy building for the upcoming 2013 season, and feel great about their chances in the league. They are excited to see amazing talent and skills being displayed under the direction of Head Coach Mark Graham.