WPSL/USASA: Charge clinch playoff spot, win National Women’s Championship

The Chesapeake Charge, Arundel Soccer Association’s elite women’s team, couldn’t have done much better this week.

On Wednesday night, a 5-0 win over the Tidewater Sharks gave them a 6-0-2 record on the season, good enough to secure one of the two playoff spots in the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s South Atlantic Division.

Then on Thursday the team flew to Kansas City to take part in the United States Adult Soccer Association’s National Women’s Championship in the amateur division. By mid-day Sunday, after a grueling four matches in three days, captains Laura Kane and Jess Hnatiuk were hoisting the championship trophy.

Wednesday night’s match was preceded by a long bus ride down to Williamsburg, VA. Fourteen minutes in, Caylin Dudley sent a ball to the head of Alexis Prior-Brown, who nodded it in to give the Charge the lead. Fourteen minutes later – just before 8 pm – play had to be suspended due to lightning in the area. Several additional bolts meant a delay until 9:30 pm – and any further delay would have meant rescheduling the game, i.e., another long bus ride on another day.

It took just nine minutes after the restart for the Charge to pad the score as Julianna Boyle scored in the 37th minute off an assist by Marisa Kresge. Three minutes later, Kresge would send in a cross that Kelly Whittaker headed in to make the score 3-0.

The halftime whistle finally blew at 9:54 pm, making the match official (not to be replayed) according to WPSL rules, about half-an-hour after the game would normally have been over.

Caylin Dudley would surpass Kresge in assists in the second half with corner kicks in the 50th and 63rd minutes that were put away by Jenna Quaranta and Nia Walcott, respectively, giving Dudley a hat trick of assists for the match.

The game concluded at 10:39 pm, leaving the team with a very late bus ride home before catching the flight to Kansas City the following afternoon.

Team leaders Laura Kane and Jess Hnatiuk host the championship trophy

If the team was tired, it didn’t show. On Friday at 7 pm CDT they took on the Turbo/D’Feeters at the Overland Park Soccer Complex and won comfortably, 4-1, despite several players – Riley Barger, Jenna Quaranta, Alexis Prior-Brown, and Lyndse Hokanson – taking a later flight and not arriving until the match was almost a third played.

They were in time to see the first goal, as Cheyenne Skidmore received a through ball from Marisa Kresge and put it away in the 36th minute. A minute later, all of the late arrivals except goalkeeper Hokanson are subbed in. Quaranta would figure in the scoring early in the second half, sending a ball that bounces off Turbo’s goalkeeper and right to Skidmore, who easily slid it into the open net. In the 54th minute, Skidmore is taken down in the box, and Hnatiuk sends home the resulting penalty kick. D’Feeters #25 would fire a shot from outside the box into the upper right corner to get one back in three minutes later, but Julianna Boyle would score in the 60th minute to get to the final score.

Saturday brought two matches. At 10 am, they faced the Real Salt Lake Women, who featured a familiar face to DC-area women’s soccer fans: Jacqui Rimando, who as Jacqui Little played for the Washington Freedom before marrying current RSL and former DC United goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Six minutes in, RSL’s #6 would get a one-on-one with Charge goalkeeper Erin Quinn and beat her. But in the 60th minute Kane would blast a shot in from the top of the box to tie it, and the match would end 1-1.

The final match of group play was against the San Francisco Olympic Club at 4 pm with the Charge needing a win in order to advance to the championship. Chesapeake would dominate possession in the first half but have nothing to show for it. That would change early in the second, Kresge putting away a feed from Boyle in the 46th minute for a 1-0 lead. In the 55th minute, Skidmore got a through ball from Kane and sent it in. Then in the 87th Barger found an unmarked Kelly Whittaker who has an easy putaway. The 3-0 win puts the Charge into Sunday morning’s championship match.

Marisa Kresge would play a key role in the run to the championship, scoring two game-winning goals and adding an assist while contributing to two shutouts

That turns out to be a rematch with Real Salt Lake, who earned the spot by beating the New York Athletic Club, 1-0, and the Turbo D’Feeters, 6-1. Chesapeake would make their mark early, in something of a reversal midfielder Barger feeding Kresge over the top, with Kresge collecting the ball and sending it in with only 16 minutes gone in the match. The Charge would have numerous other opportunities but none successful until in the 60th minute Prior-Brown headed in a ball from Dudley. And thanks to some sterling work from goalkeeper Hokanson, the Maryland team would preserve the shutout and claim the title with a score of 2-0.

Fortunately the players have a break after returning from flyover country. Their next match is at home at Arundel High on Friday, July 5, at 7 pm, against the Tidewater Sharks, while their final regular-season match is an away match on Sunday at 5 pm against the Philadelphia Fever A win in either match earns them the South Atlantic Division title and the right to host a home playoff match on Saturday, July 13, against the #2 team in the Tri-State Division.

Photos courtesy of ASA Chesapeake Charge.

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