Category Archives: Braddock Road Stars Elite

WPSL DC-Area End of Season: Not with a Bang

Braddock Road captain and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl should be one of their few longtime veterans back next season.

Braddock Road captain and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl should be one of their few longtime veterans back next season. (Photo by Larry J. Clark)

Last Saturday I turned off of Braddock Road onto Sideburn Road and approached the vicinity of the Robinson High School turf field that the Stars Elite play on. I was somewhat nonplussed to note the dearth of vehicles parked by the side of the road, though I quickly realized the game must have been cancelled for some reason. Sure enough, once I parked and came over, I found head coach Larry Best, operations manager Margie Madsen, the referees, and two ballgirls and their parents. But no players: the Legacy-W76 team out of Williamsburg had – according to Madsen – dithered since the previous evening over whether or not to make the trip with just eight or nine players and had even set off, but at Richmond turned around and went back home. Best said they’d have been willing to loan them some players and play for fun, but that offer was not accepted.

So I was deprived of one last opportunity to see the phenomenal young Aria Nagai – “the best 15-year-old in the country” according to Best – as well as longtime Braddock Road mainstays like Natalie Larkin and Rachel Moore, who will almost certainly find better things to do with their summers after graduation than play in the WPSL. Best expects Larkin to move into the real world while he sees Moore playing overseas somewhere. Meanwhile, star player and U-23 national teamer Kaleigh Riehl – a red-shirt sophomore at Penn State – should be around for another couple of years.

On top of that, a few days later I received a couple of messages from Washington Spirit Reserves assistant coach J.P. Sousa indicating that the Reserves would not be participating in the WPSL playoffs because they couldn’t be assured of having enough players for the championship round. That’s what happened last year: the Reserves participated in and won the East Conference, then found they wouldn’t be able to muster enough players, so the Boston Breakers Reserves went in their stead and ended up as WPSL champions, despite Washington beating them, 3-1, in the East final. They thought it was unfair to have that happen again, and I have to agree with them.
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Early July twists and turns in WPSL’s Colonial Division

Braddock Road's Aria Nagai - "the best 15-year-old in the country" according to her coach.

Braddock Road’s Aria Nagai – “the best 15-year-old in the country” according to her coach.

(All game photographs courtesy of Larry J. Clark)

The big match of the weekend looked to be the July 7 match with the Richmond Strikers versus the Washington Spirit Reserves, big enough that I decided to drive down for it – on a Friday afternoon, no less. Both teams were vying for first place in the Colonial Division and the sole playoff spot that went with it. For the Reserves, it was close to a must-win as they’d already dropped points in two matches while the Strikers had only dropped points in one.

While I was driving down, meanwhile, the resurgent Braddock Road Stars Elite were taking on Virginia Beach City. Out of goalkeepers, they drafted defensive midfielder Rachel Moore to play in the net. “Rachel was brilliant in goal,” said head coach Larry Best. “Rachel saved a PK. And nobody knew that she wasn’t a goalie, 5’10”, 5’11”, and she’s a good athlete. And she catches. She played basketball, so she’s got good hands. It was against Virginia Beach, and they didn’t realize until the last five minutes of the game that she wasn’t a real goalie. Because the kids were laughing every time she’d get the ball.”

Braddock Road would pull out a 2-1 win despite giving up the first goal, making it a three-game undefeated streak – starting with the 2-2 draw with Washington – after losing their first five matches of the season.

But on to the Richmond match. Both teams were short-handed this time, Washington again without Douglas, Germino-Watnick, and Schnurr while the Strikers’ U-17 national teamer, Jordan Canniff, was also away.
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WPSL DC-Area June Recap

June isn’t quite over yet, but I’m only going to make it to one more match, so here’s what’s happened so far this month.

All photographs courtesy of Larry J. Clark.

Virginia Beach City FC 4, Braddock Road Stars Elite 2

Braddock Road's Alex Myers attempts a shot against Virginia Beach.

Braddock Road’s Alex Myers attempts a shot against Virginia Beach.


On Wednesday, June 7, at Robinson High School in Fairfax, VA, a well-oiled Virginia Beach attack overpowered a normally solid Braddock Road defense and even though the Stars Elite scored twice – a good performance by them – it wasn’t enough.
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WPSL DC-Area Week One Recap

Meaghan McElligott

Australian Meaghan McElligott scored three consecutive goals in two matches for the Washington Spirit Reserves.

One week in (roughly), and we have three matches from the local teams in the books, two for each. (The math works out because they played each other.) The Washington Spirit Reserves are, unsurprisingly, 2-0-0, while the Braddock Road Stars Elite, also unsurprisingly, are 1-1-0.
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WPSL DC-area preview 2017

Washington Spirit Reserves players at a preseason practice.

Washington Spirit Reserves players at a preseason practice.

The regional elite women’s amateur scene has altered once again with the folding of the ASA Chesapeake Charge. For most of seven seasons, they were the local WPSL team to be reckoned with, but as time went by they found it harder and harder to recruit enough players to be competitive. When for some games last year they were starting the 13-year-old daughter of their operations manager, the writing was on the wall. So from two years ago when there were four local teams in two leagues, we’re down to two local teams in one league, the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Let’s look at those teams now.
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JMU Invitational Round 2: CAA blanks Big East

On Sunday, the Big East and Colonial Athletic Association teams switched off against each other. William & Mary faced Georgetown in the first game and shocked the Hoyas, 3-0. Then James Madison took on Seton Hall and prevailed easily, 5-0.
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JMU Invitational Round 1

The Fairfield Inn by Marriott James Madison University Invitational – to give it its full name – presented a contrast in the first round of matches. In the opener, William & Mary dispatched Seton Hall easily, 5-1, while in the nightcap Georgetown had a tight, high-scoring battle with hosts James Madison before prevailing, 4-3.

If you had to set up a pecking order among the teams, it would definitely be:

1. Georgetown – last year 6-1-2 and #2 in Big East, 11-5-6 overall, ranked #25 in country.
2. James Madison – 7-2 and #2 in Colonial Athletic Association, 12-8 overall.
3. William & Mary – 5-4 and #4 in CAA, 12-6-1 overall.
4. Seton Hall – 0-6-3 in Big East, 3-10-5 overall.

I don’t want to diss Seton Hall too badly, but one of these teams is not like the others, and it showed in the results.
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W-League: Spirit Reserves punch ticket to Final Four

For the fourth year in a row, the Washington Spirit Reserves (née DC United Women) will play in the four-team W-League Championship Weekend after downing the Braddock Road Stars Elite, 2-0.

The match was pretty much a must-win for the Reserves as a tie or loss would have allowed the Charlotte Lady Eagles to claim the conference championship with a win in their final game. I came in figuring that the worst-case scenario for Washington was a 0-0 draw as I didn’t see the attack-starved home team scoring on a back line anchored by U-23 national teamer Andi Sullivan.
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W-League: Spirit Reserves close to playoff spot

The Washington Spirit Reserves approached the Fourth of July weekend at the top of the Southeastern Conference but with the knowledge that any slip could leave them without control of their outcome. Three games later and with one game to go they’re still in the same situation: in control but only barely.
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DC-area W-League: The 2015 Season Begins

Summary

Thursday, May 28: Braddock Road U-20s 1, Washington Spirit Academy 0.
Saturday, May 30: Washington Spirit Reserves 2, Atlanta Silverbacks Women 2.
Sunday, May 31: Atlanta Silverbacks Women 7, Braddock Road Stars Elite 0.

Olivia Fiegel's game-winning shot goes in against the Washington Spirit Academy.

Olivia Fiegel’s game-winning shot goes in against the Washington Spirit Academy.

Braddock Road U-20s starting off on the right foot

My first amateur game of the season was actually a W-League U-20 (“W-20”) match between the Braddock Road Stars Elite and the Washington Spirit Academy on Field 14 at the Maryland Soccerplex. This was the second match of the season for Braddock Road, who had already downed the Northern Virginia Majestics, 2-0, and the first for Washington. Looking at the rosters, it seemed a bit of a mismatch. Braddock Road’s players were almost entirely the teenagers from their W-League team, while the Spirit’s roster had no W-Leaguers at all. That the result was 1-0 in favor of Braddock Road – on a first half goal by Olivia Fiegel – was no great surprise.
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