Metuchen, NJ — Two more teams punched their tickets to the United Women’s Soccer National Championship this weekend, completing the field of four clubs set to compete on July 23-34.
Chicago Mustangs will represent the Central Conference, and FC Buffalo claimed the East Conference crown with a pair of thrilling wins on the weekend.
A season of dominance on the pitch for Chicago Mustangs will conclude with a trip to the UWS National Championship. The Midwest Division champions secured the Central Conference title with a 3-0 victory over KC Courage, their clinical attack proving too much for the Heartland Division winners to handle.
Nina Nicosia didn’t take long to show her quality, sending a spectacular long-range free kick into the top corner in the third minute for her UWS-leading 13th goal of the season. Ainsley Ahmadian converted a penalty in the 45th minute to earn some breathing room for Chicago Mustangs just before halftime. Any doubt about the outcome was eliminated in the 64th minute, with Nicosia once again playing a pivotal role. Her through-ball to fellow double-digit scorer Julia Simon was expertly-placed, and Simon converted to make it a 3-0 advantage for Chicago Mustangs.
FC Buffalo went on the road to claim an impressive victory over NE Mutiny at Lusitano Stadium to advance to the East Conference Final for the second consecutive season. The win didn’t come without drama, though, with both teams exchanging goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Carissima Cutrona began the scoring in the 39th minute for FC Buffalo, playing a one-two with Gurjeena Jandu before finishing into the left corner. It looked like that might be enough to send FC Buffalo through to the final until the 83rd minute, when Alexis Legowski equalized for NE Mutiny thanks to Riley Mutton’s assist. But FC Buffalo responded. In the 89th minute, substitute Djeynaba Thiam received a pass around the halfway line with her back to goal, and expertly touched it past a NE Mutiny defender to send herself through on goal, blasting the game-winning goal by the keeper.
Coppermine United needed 115 minutes of action to break through against CT Fusion, but the UWS debutants dethroned last season’s East Conference champions with a 1-0 victory, despite the best efforts of CT Fusion goalkeeper Naya Lipkens, who made more than 20 saves on the day to keep her side in it .
A long shot from Phoebe Canoles finally made the difference. Her effort from well outside the 18-yard box had enough power and pace on it to beat Lipkens, who managed to get a finger on it but was undone by an unfortunate bounce. Coppermine United dug in for the remaining five minutes of extra time to see out a clean sheet and book a date with FC Buffalo in the East Conference Final.
FC Buffalo and Coppermine United contested an East Conference Final for the ages. Twice, FC Buffalo took the lead, and twice it was pegged back by Coppermine United, before FC Buffalo finally secured the title-deciding goal in the 113th minute, punching a ticket back to Lusitano Stadium for the UWS National Championship.
Ella Rudney opened the scoring for FC Buffalo four minutes in with an assist by Sarah Woods. That lead stood until the 80th minute, when the excitement truly began. Rachel Jackson’s through ball sent Taylor Carter in on goal, and she finished for Coppermine United to send the game to extra time. Morgan Kulniszewski came off the bench to reclaim the lead for FC Buffalo in the 95th minute, but her good work was undone by an own goal three minutes later. That set the stage for Carissima Cutrona to once again be the difference. Taking the ball on the left wing in the 113th minute, she cut inside onto her right foot and finished at the near post to send her side to the UWS National Championship.
Los Angeles SC finished its debut season on a high note, blasting FC Arizona 4-1 at home for its third win. Alexandra Hargrave, Mikaela Celeste, Kasandra Massey and Sara Ybarra found the back of the net for the victors, while Shaelyn McCarty tallied a late consolation goal for FC Arizona.
Last season’s UWS national champions ended their campaign with a win, besting FC Arizona 3-1 at home. Alyssa Thompson’s cross found Angeles Escobar to put SC Blue Heat ahead in the first half. FC Arizona briefly equalized in the 69th minute thanks to an own goal, but Sofia Cook restored SC Blue Heat’s advantage shortly thereafter, and Salome Prat finished off the scoring in added time.