This year, the WPSL's East Conference will have a new face at the WPSL Final Four. With Boston Aztec failing to reach the playoffs, their reign as three-time defending East champion has come to an end. Now, eight teams are ready to compete for the right to start a championship-winning streak of their own.
On Saturday, July 13, the divisional playoffs will kick off. By the end of the weekend, the two combatants for the East Conference title will be decided.
The format for the East Conference playoffs is as follows: The top two teams in the South Atlantic division are taking on the top two teams from the Tri-State division while the top two teams in the New England division are taking on the top two teams from the MidAtlantic division on July 13. The winners of the South Atlantic/Tri-State matches on Saturday, July 13 will face off on Sunday, July 14. The winners of Saturday, July 13's New England/MidAtlantic matches will also face off on Sunday, July 14. The winners from the July 14 matches will play on Saturday or Sunday, July 20-21 in the East Conference Final. The East Conference champion will earn an automatic berth into the WPSL National Championship, which will be held the weekend of July 27-28.
In the South Atlantic/Tri-State divisional playoffs, the South Atlantic champion ASA Chesapeake Charge (8-0-2) will host the Tri-State runner-up Long Island Fury (7-2-1) on July 13 at 4:00 PM at Arundel High School in Gambrills, Md. The Charge have to be considered a favorite to emerge as East champion, having returned to the WPSL after a year in the WPSL Elite league to go undefeated in the league while also winning the USASA Women’s Amateur Cup. But the Fury are a perennially strong side, and 2013 has been no different. The Fury won previous WPSL national championships in 2006 and 2009, and the Charge can't afford to look past the Fury if it wants to add another trophy to its cabinet.
The other South Atlantic/Tri-State divisional playoff match will feature Tri-State champion New York Athletic Club (7-1-2) hosting the South Atlantic runner-up Lancaster Inferno (6-1-3) on July 13 at 2:30 PM at Travers Island Field. NYAC's only loss came in its second match of the season, and they have every reason to feel confident heading into the playoffs. But Lancaster is a dangerous opponent, having wrapped up second place in the WPSL’s South Atlantic division with a 2-1 win over a strong ACF Torino USA on Sunday, July 7.
In the New England/MidAtlantic playoffs, one match features two newcomers to the league. In their first year in the league, Empire Revs WNY (8-2-0) impressed in their successful bid to win the MidAtlantic division, scoring 32 goals in 10 games. Meanwhile, the Boston Breakers College Academy (6-2-2) finished second in their first year in the New England division due in large part to the play of Boston College striker Stephanie McCaffrey, who scored 15 of the team's 24 goals. The Revs host the Breakers on July 13 at University of Buffalo North Campus at 11:00 AM.
The final first round East playoff match will be hosted by another WPSL powerhouse, the New England Mutiny (5-0-5), champions of the New England division. They will host the MidAtlantic runner-up Syracuse Lady Knights (6-2-2) at 4:05 PM at East Longmeadow High School. The Knights may have finished second in the MidAtlantic, but they are likely to test the Mutiny, as their results included a 4-0 defeat of the eventual division champion Revs. But the Mutiny are almost always a contender in the East, having reached the playoffs nine times in 11 WPSL seasons. The Mutiny haven't scored a ton this year, only netting 19 goals, but they have also only allowed five in 10 games. If that defense holds firm, the Mutiny has a good chance of reaching the final four for the first time since 2008.