Three of the four top local women’s amateur teams played this weekend, with two losses and one win. I attended two of the games but couldn’t make it to the third. Guess which one was the win?
ACF Torino vs. New York Athletic Club (WPSL)
ACF Torino hasn’t gotten many breaks this year. Every team in the South Atlantic Division has two games against teams from the Tri-State Division, but only Torino ended up with the short straw and has to play the New York Athletic Club and the Long Island Fury – respectively, the division champion and the runner-up last year. And not only did they play NYAC, they played them a week after playing last year’s South Atlantic Division champion ASA Chesapeake Charge.
The Saturday afternoon match started off promisingly for the home team as in the first few minutes Torino twice got the ball literally right on the threshold of the goalmouth, though alas without being able to put it in. After that, though, the visitors – with a roster that includes three DiMartino sisters (Christina, Gina, and Victoria) and former DCU Women/Spirit Reserve player Katy Colas – tightened up and didn’t allow any further near misses. At the other end, though, defensive lapses let New York score repeatedly.
In the 18th minute, New York’s Nicoleta Hardesty had the ball on Torino’s end line somehow with no field player within ten yards of her. She was free to send a well-aimed cross in that Natalie Romine tucked into the lower left corner. Four minutes later, Sophie Reiser managed to slip through behind the right flank defender and received a through ball while being kept onside by the central defender and was able to send the ball in from the corner of the box.
Ten minutes into the second half, Torino turned the ball over in their own end. NYAC put on a quick passing clinic with a final pass from Romine that gave Gina DiMartino an open shot from about ten out, and she put it away. Finally, in the 74th minute, several New York attackers broke through, with Romine getting the ball as the most open and put it away.
The good news is that ACF Torino’s next two games are against less formidable opposition, as they go on the road to take on FC Bucks, Lion Soccer Club, and the Lancaster Inferno, before returning home to their normal venue, the Riverdale Sportsplex, to take on the Lion SC on Saturday, June 21, at 7 pm.
Washington Spirit Reserves vs. New Jersey Wildcats (W-League)
The second game of the weekend – and the one I was unable to attend – was hosted by the Washington Spirit Reserves, though at Liberty High School in far-flung Bealeton, VA, rather than at their usual venue, the Maryland Soccerplex. No matter the location, though, the Reserves are formidable. On this occasion they downed the New Jersey Wildcats, 5-0, powered by three goals from Morgan Reuther in the first 40 minutes, the first two coming in the third and seventh minutes. Ashley Herndon added a fourth at the tail end of the first half with a 30-yard golazo that went in under the crossbar, then Lina Granados concluded the scoring in the 56th minute.
With the win the Spirit Reserves are now 4-0-0 in W-League play and 6-0-0 if you count their USASA tournament matches. They’re one of only three W-League teams still undefeated, along with the Ottawa Fury and the LA Blues.
Washington next has another weekend road trip north coming up, taking on Long Island on Saturday and North Jersey on Sunday. They then return home – home this time being Howison Homestead Park in Woodbridge, VA – on Wednesday, June 18, at 7:30 pm, for a rematch against the Braddock Road Stars Elite.
Braddock Road Stars Elite vs. New Jersey Wildcats
Braddock Road, meanwhile, faced the Wildcats in their inaugural home match, at Robinson High School in Fairfax, VA, late Sunday afternoon. The new, young team dominated possession despite missing some key players, including their two U-20 national teamers, Carlyn Baldwin and Kaleigh Riehl. However, defensive lapses led them to giving up four unanswered goals to fall, 4-0.
The Elite gave Wildcat forwards Cassandra Inacio and Phonetia Browne too much room in the fourth minute, and Inacio was able to send a cross in from the left that Browne put away from about ten yards out.
In the 21st minute, Braddock Road was called for a handball in the box. Laylla da Cruz stepped up and fired the ball into the lower left corner, just out of the reach of diving goalkeeper Jessie Ferrari.
The home team came out strong in the second half and continued to maintain possession, though with little success at creating dangerous chances. Then in the 72nd minute they created a dangerous chance for New Jersey when a defender tried to head the ball back to Ferrari but didn’t get enough on it. Rachael Ivanicki was able to run onto the ball as Ferrari came out and chip it over the goalkeeper and into the net.
In the 70th minute, Stars Elite forward Allie Wisner was knocked down in the penalty area, but no call came.
Two minutes later New Jersey completed the scoring with a 2-on-2 break. Anna Dolhansky brought the ball down the middle, then when the two defenders converged on her passed to da Cruz on her left, who had an open run into the box and and an easy putaway into the upper right corner.
Head coach Larry Best was pleased with the performance. “Overall, I think we were better than in our first match in a lot of ways. We were a lot more cohesive. We actually kept the ball and moved it well, very well. We just weren’t dangerous enough up top. We didn’t take advantage of our chances. They did. I give them a lot of credit. They finished their opportunities.”
He also noted that the team’s primary goal wasn’t the final score. “As athletes, you want to win. Everybody who’s competitive wants to win. But we’ve dedicated this summer to becoming better players, everybody becoming a better player, especially our players who are going off to college for the first time, this’ll be a great experience for them. We’ll just keep playing. We’re going to try to get better each week.”
I had a hard time deciding which player I wanted to talk to after the match. I try for players who did well and who I haven’t talked with already, but those groups didn’t overlap by much. I finally asked for #22 Allie Wisner, who’d put in 90 tough minutes at forward – including the aforementioned knockdown in the box – and was glad I did.
I asked her to provide a quick soccer biography.
“I’m originally from Montana,” she said. “I went to school at the University of Utah for 4.5 years, just graduated in December. I was out doing tryouts in Seattle and out west, got hold of Larry, and came out here. I was really looking for a change and a place to challenge myself and keep getting better, and this program really intrigued me.”
“So you didn’t know anybody, have any connections?”
She shook her head vigorously. “No, no. I’ve never even been to the east coast.”
“When did you get here?”
She laughed. “I got here Wednesday morning. We didn’t have practice that night, but I hung out and met a lot of people. Then we practiced Thursday, Friday nights, and yesterday got some more touches. So a few days.”
She’s happy with the team so far. “I was actually really pleased with all of the younger girls. They’re really young, but they’re really good. And they’re really good – technically, tactically, very good. We just gave up some early chances. They put away theirs, and we didn’t put away ours. It’s definitely a learning experience, and I think together as a group we still have a lot to learn, but it’s a good place. The score doesn’t really show how well we played. I think we can be a little bit more aggressive with sending balls in, getting in the box, that sort of thing.”
And Best is happy with her. “Out of the blue, she contacted me, and with anybody we talk to them, we do our due diligence, look into them, see what it’s all about. Her college coach called me. And we’re thrilled to have her. The timing was perfect for her to come in. She’s an experienced player. She captained her team at the University of Utah for two years. So you can see on the field today she brought some leadership. That’s good for us. We need that, because she’s surrounded by younger players. On the front line when we started, she had a sophomore in high school and a senior in high school. She was in there with two high school players, and she really helped create, so I think she’s going to be great for us. Plus she’s a great kid. We love her.”
Braddock Road has three away games, against Long Island on Wednesday, the New York Magic on Saturday, and the Spirit Reserves the following Wednesday, before their second home match on Sunday, June 22, at 4 pm, when they have a rematch with the Magic.
The one local team that was idle this weekend, the ASA Chesapeake Charge, is in fact the next to play a home game. They take on the Lions Soccer Club this coming Wednesday at 5 pm, as usual on Arundel High School’s Carroll Field.