Tag Archives: kate howarth

The League is Dead! Long Live the League!

United Women’s Soccer Rises from the Ashes of the W-League

The USL W-League set the standard for elite women’s amateur (and occasionally professional) soccer since its founding in 1995. So it was a great disappointment when the league – after losing teams for several years – folded last November. That left the Women’s Premier Soccer League as the only second-tier league in the United States, and the WPSL, while vast (103 teams this year), has a reputation more for allowing any team in that can afford the dues than maintaining high standards.

Into the breach stepped a number of teams frustrated with the situation, led by the New England Mutiny, who had already expressed dissatisfaction with the WPSL in a late-season press release.
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WPSL Elite: The Show Must Go On; At Least It Should

The Chicago Red Stars enjoyed a big crowd against Western New York on July 14, but had to forfeit a game just five days later when they couldn't make it to New England.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – My first year coaching high school soccer, we were matched up with a clearly inferior team that was, unfortunately for them, inferior to just about everyone they played that season. They would soon be moved to a league where they could be more competitive, but on this day, the rookie coach (a.k.a. me) spent most of the second half figuring out how to manage the final scoreline.

I emptied the bench, switched positions, but still the score made it to nine, a total that is embarrassing to look back on, honestly. A few minutes before the end, a girl who had never scored before found herself alone on goal, and almost sheepishly poked the ball in. There was no applause, just silence. 10-0 was the final.

I met with the Athletic Director the next day and tried to plead my case: it was an accident, I was unprepared, I didn’t expect it to get that bad. He – being one of the finest people I’ve worked for and a former coach at many levels – cut me off. “It doesn’t really matter how it happened, it happened, and it makes us look bad. When they look in the newspaper, people are going to see the score. That’s it. Don’t let it happen again, please.”

Which brings us to the Chicago Red Stars and last Thursday’s game with New England.

Most of you reading this know by now that Chicago was forced to forfeit that game when they couldn’t make it to Massachusetts in time due to delayed and cancelled flights.

The intent here is not to kill the Red Stars (New England’s Ciara McCormack took a few shots at them in her blog already), who agreed to play in WPSL Elite this season despite the geographic trouble of playing in an east coast league. I met Arnim Whisler (whose responses you see in McCormack’s blog) two weeks ago in Chicago, and I can say with complete confidence that women’s soccer in this country needs people like Whisler and the market of Chicago. The Red Stars have been great for WPSL Elite, and should be great in whatever the league morphs into next season.

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Charge Play to 3-3 Draw with Rival Mutiny

Kate Howarth (with the ball) would score twice for the Mutiny

The Chesapeake Charge had the advantage in the run of play but couldn’t match the New England Mutiny’s polished finishing. The result was a 3-3 draw, with two goals from Kate Howarth and one from Tiffany Weimer on the New England side, and scores from Cheyenne Skidmore, Nicole Clark, and Ashley Spivey – the last in second-half stoppage time – for Chesapeake. The result bolsters the Mutiny’s claim to being the best non-WPS-heritage team in the WPSL Elite since the Charge lost the other half of the home-and-home series.
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WPSL Elite: Sometimes Journey More Important Than Destination

The plan to come to Chicago for a July vacation was made well before the WPSL Elite schedule came out, or even before the decision was made to cover the league at all this summer (which I thank AWK for, it’s been fun).
I knew I would basically miss a weekend of games, but when I saw July 7: Boston at New England, I had a sneaking suspicion it may be bad game to be absent for.
Of course, we know what happened next. Paul Riley had said all season that one “amateur” team would beat a “pro” team before the 2012 campaign concluded, and the Mutiny did so in spectacular fashion, scoring twice in stoppage time to give them a win over their intrastate rival Breakers, 2-1.
New England does not have the best team in WPSL Elite (as their 31 goals conceded in 11 matches can attest to), but they may be the most interesting thing to come out of this makeshift domestic women’s soccer season, at least on the East coast.
The Mutiny have a marketable star in youngster Morgan Andrews, one of the best attacking talents in Kate Howarth, and recently added to that with veteran Tiffany Weimer who – for my money, at least – was one of the most entertaining players in WPS (this side of Marta) when she played with FC Gold Pride just a couple of years ago.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, New England is only 4-5-2, and although it has a fairly favorable schedule to close, finishing above .500 will be difficult. But, even in competitive athletics, sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the journey to get there.
With goals galore, upsets of more heralded teams, and just entertaining soccer, the Mutiny journey has been a lot of fun.

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WPSL Elite: Morgan Andrews Continues To Impress, Smiling All The Way

Despite the tough result for the Flash, Meghan Klingenberg and Lori Lindsey took time to sign autographs after the 3-3 draw with New England before rejoining the U.S. national team this week.

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. – Soccer, like most sports, like life, is about moments. We live for those quick rushes, sometimes we know when they’re coming, sometimes not.

As soccer fans, we rarely know when the hour is at hand, which is part of our enjoyment, but we inherently know special players have a proportionally greater chance to give us them.

Morgan Andrews still has a long way to go in her soccer education, and the last thing I want to do is put undue pressure on her as she begins to prepare for her senior year of high school (try to think back to what your priorities were the summer before yours for comparison) that will include a trip to exotic Azerbaijan as captain of the U.S. national team for the U-17 World Cup among other things.

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WPSL Elite: Boston Stops New England Behind Jones, Simon; Howarth Impresses In Defeat

The teams line up before kickoff on a brutally hot evening at Dilboy Stadium.

SOMERVILLE, Mass. – The record will show that the Boston Breakers defeated the New England Mutiny 4-2 Wednesday night, a result that brought us one step closer to what you have to figure is the inevitable: the four “professional” teams battling it out for the inaugural WPSL Elite title in Rochester at the end of July.

But – as I’ve occasionally pointed out to my teams over the years – sometimes life is about the journey not the destination, and on an oppressive New England night outside of Boston, there was plenty to take notice of outside the final scoreline.

Even in a losing effort, New England striker Kate Howarth continues to shine. On a team full of local talent, Howarth – a Michigan native who will be heading into her senior year at Miami in the fall – decided a summer in New England would benefit her. And, at least among people who are paying attention to WPSL Elite, she has. Statistically, she leads the Mutiny with five goals, but she’s probably been better than that, giving a Breakers’ veteran backline all kinds of fits Wednesday night before scoring a striker’s goal in the 59th minute.

For a player who suffered a somewhat gruesome leg break less than two years ago, Howarth definitely doesn’t take anything for granted and it shows in her play, which has drawn rave reviews from her opponents as well.

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WPSL Elite Review: Some Teams Just Dreaming Of Having A Full Squad

The WPSL Elite deserves to be cut some slack this season. It was hastily thrown together, yet was able to give us eight teams and a 14-game schedule on very, very short notice. And so, I can understand when everything was thrown into the blender that  four teams that basically came out as “professional”: Western New York, Chicago, Boston, and New York; and the other four: New England, Chesapeake, Philadelphia, and Indiana as basically “amateur” sides.

It’s obviously better than having no league at all, which was the very real alternative. In a way, it set up those “other” four teams in the underdog role.You knew right off the bat, it was going to be tough when I went to New England’s opener and they were hammered by New York, 5-1. But that was alright, there were reinforcements on the way for the Mutiny that at the very least would make things exciting in the coming months.

While Shek Borkowski’s Haitian experiment in Indiana was interesting and noble, there were three players on the “amateur” squads that I had a particular interest in seeing this spring and summer: Kristie Mewis and Morgan Andrews – both of New England – and Christine Nairn of Chesapeake. None of them is older than 21, and while there are many obstacles (and players) in their way, it’s at least possible that could be your trio in the midfield when the United States plays in the 2019 World Cup (In Japan?). Nairn and Mewis certainly have a shot you’d think to be on the 2015 Canada roster as well. So the chance to see them against “professional” competition was a fortunate consequence out of the unfortunate WPS collapse.

Regrettably, as we approach the midpoint of the WPSL Elite campaign that trio has combined to play a total of two matches: Nairn played her team’s opener against Boston and Andrews played last week against Philadelphia.

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