Midwest Conference Playoffs Preview

11 Jul 2018
uws 2018 midwest conference playoff

Lansing United to host four-team tournament, winner clinches bid to UWS National Championship

The regular season schedule has concluded for the Midwest Conference of United Women’s Soccer (UWS) and this weekend, the top four teams in the regular season standings will compete in a single elimination tournament to determine who will represent the conference at the 2018 UWS National Championship. Lansing United (7-0-3, 24 points) secured the Midwest regular season title back in Week VIII and will host the tournament at the East Lansing Soccer Complex from July 12-14.

Second-place and defending Midwest Conference and UWS Champions Grand Rapids Women’s FC (7-1-2, 23 points) will face third-place and 2017 UWS National Semifinalist Detroit Sun FC (6-2-2, 20 points) at 6:00 PM EDT on Thursday in the first Semifinal. Lansing United will host fourth-place Michigan Legends (5-2-3, 18 points) in the second Semifinal match, which will take place at 8:30 PM EDT.

The two Semifinal winners will square off in the 2018 UWS Midwest Conference Final on Saturday, July 14th at 7:00 PM EDT, with the winner earning the automatic berth to the UWS National Championship.

Tickets for the Midwest Conference Playoff are priced at $10 for one day or $15 for a two-day pass (which can be purchased at the gate only).

To purchase tickets for Thursday’s matches, click HERE. And to purchase tickets for Saturday’s match, click HERE. Live streams of all three matches will be available on the Lansing United Mycujoo page, which can be found HERE. Directions to the East Lansing Soccer Complex as well as parking information can be found HERE.

UWS Midwest Conference Playoff Preview

Semifinal #1: Grand Rapids FC Women vs. Detroit Sun FC

Thursday, July 12 – 6:00 PM EDT – East Lansing Soccer Complex (East Lansing, MI)

The 2017 season for Grand Rapids FC Women was one to remember. They took the Midwest Conference by storm and posted a furious finish to their regular season campaign by winning five straight matches and outscoring their opponents 22-2 in the process. Then, they rode the high of playing all four of their postseason matches at home and hoisted the UWS Championship trophy in front of a raucous home crowd. So James Gilpin’s team is hoping that they can utilize the experience they gained in 2017 and use that to their advantage in 2018. The team experienced a setback in Week VIII when they dropped their first match of the season to Lansing on the road but responded beautifully by defeating Indy Premier and Fort Wayne convincingly in their final two matches. GRFC’s leading scorer, Cindy Lay, has come into form over the last few weeks as in addition to notching a team-high eight goals on the season, she’s scored in four of the last five matches. Grace Labadie has also posted a solid 2018 campaign with four goals and five assists GRFC will be hoping that those two will carry over their success from the regular season into the playoffs.

Detroit Sun lost to Grand Rapids FC Women in the Midwest Playoff Final last year but earned a Wild Card bid into the UWS National Championships, before falling to Santa Clarita in the semifinals. So this semifinal will have an air of retribution for the Sun as they are hoping to get through their conference rivals and earn another shot at the Conference crown. This season has been an up-and-down one for Skipper Mukhtar’s team where after the Sun picked up two wins in Week I, they fell in back-to-back contests against Grand Rapids, putting them in a bit of a hole. Then after sweeping Genesee FC in consecutive weekends, leading goal scorer Madison Schupbach was signed by Cardiff Met Ladies ahead of their UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying stage. So the team looked to try and fill the shoes that she left but instead of getting one key scorer, they instead found balance. 14 different players have found the back of the net this season, giving the club many different weapons to choose from when the time matters most. Adding to the goal scoring, Dani Evans comes into this week leading all of UWS in assists with eight. So combining all of their offensive firepower and having a trifecta of good goalkeepers in Madison Clem, Katelyn McEachern and Marina Manzo, they could be set for a run this postseason

REGULAR SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD MEETINGS: Grand Rapids took both meetings between the two sides this year, upping their overall record against Detroit to 4-1 in all competitions. GRFC won their home contest 1-0 back on May 20th with a 48th minute winner from Jodian Morris. It was a busy day for Detroit’s goalkeeper Madison Clem as she had to make ten saves while Maia Perez only needed to stop three in winning effort. Five days later, GRFC took a 2-1 victory over Detroit at the Ultimate Indoor Soccer Arena, making them the first team in two years to beat Detroit at their home ground. Morris was at it again as she got her side on the board in the fourth minute before Madison Schupbach finished off Dani Evans’ service on the half hour mark. Grace Labadie saved it late for the visitors as her 86th minute winner secured three points for GRFC. Perez made eight stops for her second straight win while Marina Manzo and Katelyn McEachern split time in between the pipes for Detroit, combining to stop five.

Semifinal #2: Lansing United vs. Michigan Legends

Thursday, July 12 – 8:30 PM EDT – East Lansing Soccer Complex (East Lansing, MI)

If there was any sign that the inaugural campaign was going to be special for Lansing United, it came in the opening week when they went up to Grand Rapids and came away with a 2-2 draw against the defending champs. From then on, Lansing posted five straight wins in a row to solidify their spot at the top of the conference. Jason Crist’s team did have a testing Week VII where they had to come back late on to pick up a point against Michigan via a 90th minute goal from Olivia Trombley before battling Detroit in a wild 4-4 contest two days later. But the team closed out the season strong with a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids in Week VIII and earned the regular season title two days later with a 4-1 win against Genesee. The East Lansing Soccer Complex has been very good to them this year, as they’ve gone 4-0-1 at home and have a great supporting group that’s behind them every time they take the field. Now they will hope that like Grand Rapids last season, they can take advantage of playing on their home field in the playoffs and punch their ticket to the National Championships.

For the second straight season, the Michigan Legends find themselves in the Midwest Conference Playoffs after sweeping Indy Premier over their final two matches of the season. Last year the Legends battled Detroit in the semifinals but lost 1-0, cutting short their hopes for a Conference crown. But this year is a different campaign and one that has been lead by the solid play of Jennifer Borawski and Alia Frederick. Borawski has been good for nearly a goal per game when taking to the field for Michigan, as she’s bagged six goals in seven matches played, including a memorable hat trick against Fort Wayne back on June 19. A good portion of her goals have come by way of Frederick’s service as the Eastern Michigan product has posted six assists this season, in addition to scoring three times in 2018. Isabel Nino has been solid in goal this year as well, posting 44 saves in seven starts and has earned a result against each of the other three-playoff teams in the conference. Michigan has hung with Lansing on both occasions that they’ve faced off this season so if they can do so again on Thursday and nick a late goal, they could be in business to advance in this postseason.

REGULAR SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD MEETINGS: Lansing hosted Michigan in their home opener back on June 10th and delighted the home crowd with a 2-1 victory. Lexi Pelafas opened the scoring in the 20th minute and three minutes after halftime, Dani Stephan gave her side the necessary insurance goal as Alia Frederick pulled one back in the 51st minute. But Lansing pressed well for 90 minutes and the Legends couldn’t find an equalizer in the remaining minutes. In the return match on June 22nd at the Legacy Center Fieldhouse, Michigan, as they so often do when at home, jumped out to an early lead by way of a 13th minute Claire Cahalan goal. Lansing continued to press for the equalizing goal throughout the rest of the match by Isabel Nino was up to the task, stopping ten shots, until the dying embers of the contest. In the 90th minute, Olivia Trombley finished off Riko Sagara’s ball in the area to steal a point on the road, ultimately helping them to clinch the regular season crown a week later. 

About United Women’s Soccer: 

UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer. UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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